The taxi journey was hair raising. At 5am it was dark and we sped with unnecessary urgency from Grahamstown to the airport in Port Elizabeth. It was one, seat gripping forehead sweating, hour of hell. We , Gill Anna and I, sat in stoney silence as the driver pursued the bumper of every car in existence upon the motorway.
We passed the sewage works before entering Port Elizabeth and a purile stench filled the van. It was the smell of fear and I cannot be sure that it really was the sewage works. We looked at each other in embarrassment as we arrived at the airport. Nobody said a word.
Two hours later and we arrived at Tambo international airport, Johannesburg where I picked up the hire car. “what’s the word – Johannesburg.” I sang Gil Scott Heron’s
words as we hurtled through towards the city and to Soweto. We arrived at the five star Hotel. As we entered the hotel a delicate meticulously manicured woman sat
cross legged in a chair daintily patting foundation upon her pouting face. She
raised an eyebrow from her mirror. I raised mine.
She is Lorna Maseko the first black ballet dancer of South Africa and now famed
Television presenter on South Africa broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) “Soweto Live”. But make no bones about it ballet dancers are strong strong stock, those feet inside their dainty shoes are gnarled and worried. I change into something respectable hoping to God or anyone that the smell of the journey had passed.
Dressed in Calvin Klein trousers Kurt Geiger shoes John Smedley T shirt and Cashmere Sweater I sit. The sound man fits my mic. I note how good we both look but how
important it is to dress for interview, to give the camera, the viewer, respect. I am entering people’s homes. It is the least to do. However one dresses, to think about it is to give respect to ones self and the person one is talking to. Self respect is a close call to vanity. When the latter hides the former then all is lost. The camera soaks us both in and we begin what becomes an electrified interview.
My one person play Something Dark has truly found home in South Africa. I travel to our apartments in Houghton Johannesburg. I am staying two streets from where Nelson Mandela Lives and tomorrow I shall walk onto the stage of a place that has had more than its fair share of drama, the most famous in South Africa, established by Lithuanian Jewish immigrant Barney Simon in 1976, one week before the Soweto uprising, The market Theatre .