I caught the wonderful actor Peter Hayes FOR FREE at the Little Theatre a few weeks ago performing IAM HERE. It was part of the Wits organized theatre festival to promote an appropriate reponse to HIV and AIDS. I don't know when you last saw a piece in this genre, but I was really surprised by complexity
the whole suite of shows captured.
Peter's story is human and moving and brave and good. He had finally arrived at a really good place in his life where he wanted to adopt a baby. And in our wonderful country even a gay single dad can adopt a baby.
To get his "house in order" so to speak he goes for an HIV test - his 3rd. The last 2 were HIV negative. He's like most people. Most of the time he's practiced safe sex, but there one slip up. Turns out he's HIV positive. What follows is his grappling with all that that means -Does he still date? If he does, when does he tell the other person he's HIV positive? What about people who don't tell? When he tells, will he still be loved?
This was so relevant for ALL South Africans gay or straight.
Another show I saw was the Bonfire group. 4 actors and "ringmaster/facilitator" acted out scenes from the audiences members' lives where they experienced transformation - a young gay black man coming out to his parents; a University peer educator teaching people about HIV in memory and honor of her aunt who died from AIDS and another story so sadly South African:
A young lady from Durban had just finished matric. Her and her pals went to the beachfront for a party at night, but didn't tell her mom. They were ambushed, had sand stuffed in their mouths and had their phones stolen. She realized her mom maybe knew what’s best for her before something serious happened.
It wasn't her fault. She should be able to go out anywhere any time. But in this crazy country she learnt such a hard lesson. And there were other awesome shows- Clowns without borders and Pj Sabbaga's "Deep".
Next time this city gets the privilege of these shows, go see them.