Director Palesa Matabane has an interactive multilingual WhatsApp performance titled "After God's Own Heart" at the Virtual National Arts Festival(vNAF) this year.
"After God's Own Heart" follows a young girl who finds herself at the Pearly Gates after her untimely demise in a taxi. Before her, Anubis, Death, Saint Peter, Styx, her ancestors, and a host of angels are all awaiting to hear her final confession before she can be led to her final resting place.
In the hour long interactive WhatsApp performance, audience takes on the role of the host of angels and the ancestors who are there to help Anubis, Death, Saint Peter, and Styx determine her final resting place.
The narrative is a true confession superimposed on the fictional situation of the artist’s death. The fiction provides a context through which to involve the audience – and the confession is the performance.
By using online social media tools and methods, the performance will be carried out as a guided confession where the actors coax the audience into performing with them and, ultimately, arriving at verdict.
We spoke to Matabane to find out more about her experience at the first ever vNAF:
Have you been to the NAF before and how was the experience performing live?
I was in NAF in 2015 in Napo Masheane's "Mama the Storm Is Outside" for the University of Pretoria. It was quite fun…I love performing when I can.
How has it been performing on a virtual scale for the audience?
So so so interesting and fun. Having a direct line to audiences thoughts is exhilarating.
Any thoughts on the NAF going virtual?
I follow the NAF newsletter and when they announced that they will be doing a virtual festival, I wondered how it would work. Now I applaud them for the bravery, ingenuity and hard work it took to make this happen.
How has Covid-19 affected your line of work?
It has pushed me to work on things I have been putting on the back burner and in that sense I am grateful. The challenge of the situation has coaxed different levels of creativity and problem solving.