Artists reflect the society in which they live and this year the DFL Sex Actually Festival, taking place from 23 August to 1 September 2012 has been shaped by the concern around the intolerance that LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) communities are facing, particularly on the continent.
There has been an increase of related incidences over the past few years, as people are finding opportunity to live their true identity, the rest of society hasn’t quite caught up.
In several African countries homosexuality is criminalised, sentences ranging from fines to death. Even though the South African constitution protects the legal rights of all people to freely practice their sexual orientation, LGBTI communities in South Africa are continually confronted with ignorance, intolerance and violence. In South Africa we have the opportunity to fully interrogate these responses, and the DFL Festival creates spaces and events to do just that.
The stigma that LGBTI persons are often facing has a direct influence on their access to appropriate information and health care services. This is why Sex Actually sees the need to bring together activists, health care workers and LGBTI communities to create honest and open dialogue stimulated through the arts.
DFL Sex Actually, in partnership with the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA), comes out of the closet, so to speak, and engages with the topic through thought provoking, cutting-edge performances and workshops. In a non-judgemental environment, Sex Actually interrogates our perceptions and behaviours around sex, sexual orientation, gender, relationships and HIV and AIDS.
One of the exciting initiatives to connect LGBTI communities to the conversations at Sex Actually is through the online platform 69 Positions (69positions.webs.com). Sex Actually takes the dialogue from Johannesburg to South Africa and the whole continent.
In collaboration with the Wits Transformation Office, Wits Pride and GALA. 69 Positions uses visuals, short clips and blogs to inspire and motivate an active online continental discussion around sexual orientation and gender identity.
69 Positions (69positions.webs.com) goes live on 17 August 2012 and the public are invited to join the conversation.
The DFL LGBTI programme includes:
Standing By by Athena Mazarakis
Standing By is an immersive performance experience choreographed and performed by award-winning choreographer, Athena Mazarakis. Weaving together a series of performed vignettes, within an interactive performance installation, Standing By delves into the loaded issue of gender violence in the South African context with a specific focus on the ‘corrective rape’ of lesbians. Through the use of text, interactive multi-media elements, an evocative gestural language and stop-frame animation, Standing By questions whether we are simply standing by while gender-based violations occur all around us or whether we are on stand-by, ready to respond, to act. It asks whether we are capable of response, whether we are response-able?
Taking place from 29 August – 31 August 2012, 19:00, 19th Floor, University Corner
In a Second, directed by Robert Colman
In a second tells the story of Zachariah, a man whose life has changed in the last 24 hours, and he cannot remember what happened. As his journey home from work unfolds, through the streets of Alexandra, so does his story. Past Rax’s tavern where it all began the night before, an unusual night for the normally sober Zachariah. Trying to piece his memory together he recalls the other people who were at Rax’s: the Psychologist, Mother Fucker, and Nomsa the handsome young barman, easy to mistake as a beautiful young woman, especially if you’ve had too much to drink. It all happened in a second – the second before it happened. But what happened?
30 August 2012, 19:30, Wits Nunnery, East Campus
31 August 2012, 18:00, Wits Nunnery, East Campus
1 September 2012, 18:30, Wits Nunnery, East Campus
Isini by Khanyisa Buti
Isini (Gender) is a play that addresses sexual orientation and hate crimes in the rural areas of the democratic South Africa. The subject of sexuality is a very sensitive one in South Africa and this sensitivity is derived from strong culture and religious beliefs existing among its citizenry. Isini is set in fictional village of Enkohlisweni (Deceit) in the former Transkei. Two young men are persecuted by their community because their affair does not conform to accepted cultural and religious beliefs.
25 August 2012, 13:00, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
27 August 2012, 13:15, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
28 August 2012, 13:00, Spaceframe
A Certain Kind of Man by Ayanda Kabelo Khala and Themba Interactive
Celibacy and virginity are ideas very far from the image that Sizwe Ndlovu, a young man from Soweto projects. To his friends he is a Men’s Health sex expert, the man about town, a Casanova of note!
Raymond is a gay man pretending to be someone he is not. Straight-looking and about to be wed, he is determined to live the dream his father created in place of what should be his life. When the lies start to become the truth, the lines between who you are as a man and who you should be are dangerously blurry.
Sizwe and Raymond are perfect strangers but they may need each other more than they ever realised.
28 August 2012, 20:30, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
29 August 2012, 13:15, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
30 August 2012, 17:30, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
Construction by Jessica Glendinning
Have you ever wondered what makes us male or female? Is it our biology, the clothes we wear or our views on sex? Construction is a comic look at gender, gender roles and gender restrictions in our society. Together we will explore different aspects of gender roles and the ways in which they are enforced, including how they are furnished with gendered clothing and objects.
23 August 2012, 17:00, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
24 August 2012, 18:00, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
25 August 2012, 15:30, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
Influences of a Closet chant by Albert Silindokuhle
The piece explores the journey of challenges of otherness in sexuality, the complexity of cultural connotations and denotations, societal prescriptions and expectations, and the issue of what constitutes gender and its roles and who defines it for whom. It highlights the metaphysics of sexuality carried in the metaphor of the closet, situating the individual’s choices against the biological and sexual ones.
27 August 2012, 19:00, Wits Theatre Workshop
28 August 2012, 18:30, Wits Theatre Workshop
29 August 2012, 20:00, Wits Theatre Workshop
Drama for Life Playback Theatre
The DFL Playback Theatre Company is an innovative form of storytelling theatre which addresses various social issues according to a community’s needs. Playback Theatre is especially suited to confront South Africa’s challenging social issues, in order to break down barriers and taboos around topics such as HIV and AIDS, gender, race, culture and identity. One of the strongest features of Playback Theatre is that it allows marginalised voices to be heard through storytelling in a space that is modelled on the core values of empathy, listening and community. Such an experience encourages communities to listen and engage on sensitive issues in a caring, non-judgemental environment, modelling essential life values through the magic of Playback Theatre!
25 August 2012, 17:45, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
28 August 2012, 17:30, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
30 August 2012, 20:30, Wits Amphitheatre, East Campus
1 September 2012, 20:00, Wits Downstairs Theatre, East Campus
Workshop with Claire Jaynes
This event is an interactive cross-dressing workshop for female identified participants. It explores themes of gender, power, the performance of gender, identities and sexualities.
25 August 10:00-13:00, Wits School of Arts, East Campus
1 September 10:00-13:00, Wits School of Arts, East Campus