Every year, every day I am walking.
Article Type: Theater review
Subject: Theater (Theater reviews)
Author: Frank, Liz
Pub Date: 06/01/2008
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: June, 2008 Source Volume: 20 Source Issue: 2
Topic: NamedWork: Every Year, Every Day I Am Walking (Play)
Persons: Reviewee: Reznek, Jennie; Yisa, Faniswa; Theatre, Magnet
Accession Number: 184550000
Full Text: Not all of us will have remembered her name - Jennie Reznek - but Windhoek theatre lovers will never forget her stunning performance years ago in the one-woman play The show's not over 'til the fat lady sings. The fat lady not only sang but realised her dream of flying by the end of this performance, while the play's title and its expression of unspressable vitality have long entered the psyche of the theatre world in our region.

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In April Jennie Reznek, founding member of Magnet Theatre and drama lecturer at the University of Cape Town, returned to Windhoek with Faniswa Yisa, one of her former students, for the equally unforgettable production Every year, every day I am walking.

This play, commissioned by the African Festival for Children and Youth Theatre in Yaounde, Cameroon, tells the story of a refugee mother and her young daughter as they flee from war in their once peaceful village, crossing borders and countries to find refuge in Cape Town, South Africa. Using the style of physical theatre, much of the story is told through movement - a method employed by Magnet Theatre to communicate across barriers of language and culture.

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The versatility of these two actresses was phenomenal. Jennie switched effortlessly from role to role, playing the mother, the older sister, various street characters in Cape Town and even the chicken that tried in vain to escape the cooking pot, while Faniswa was utterly convincing in her role of the happy child in the village who became the little girl on the run, begging for news of her older sister who hadn't made it out of their village alive, and experiencing the hunger, exhaustion and violence of life on the road, travelling across countries where you have no right to existence.

The audience becomes part of this arduous journey as the fire destroying the village hut made from paper engulfs the theatre in smoke, and the dust rises from the endless gravel road, kicked up by the white shoes of the mother and the pink shoes of the little girl. A poignant moment is reached when the pink shoes cannot take another step, and the white shoes carry the pink shoes as the mother gently begins to carry her daughter. Yet in other scenes these shoes can fly, powered by the imagination!

Another poignant moment is when the mother slowly shakes out an empty garbage bag and climbs into it - the only place to call home on the streets of Cape Town.

At the end of their performance the actresses inform us that the play was inspired by interviews with women refugees in South Africa and by The Suitcase Stories - a book that was produced as part of a creative therapy process with refugee children by Glynis Claherty in Johannesburg

Every year, every day I am walking explores the universal theme of loss and recovery - what it means to lose home, and to rebuild it. This is a subject that Magnet Theatre has pursued over recent years, with the outdoor play Onnest 'bo on the demolition of District Six under Apartheid, and the historical play Our Cargo about slavery in the Western Cape. Through reflecting reality, members of this innovative and dynamic theatre company are doing their part to change the world.

A review by Liz Frank
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.