ELRC & Baobab African Eco-Play @ the 2014 Art Festival

Rhodes>ELRC>Latest News

At this years’ National Art Festival 2014, the Re-Imagining Programme at the Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre will also feature The Baobab: An African Eco-Play. The Baobab African Eco-Play is produced by Well Worn Theatre Company (Johannesburg) in collaboration with Seka Theatre (Zambia) and Jungle Theatre (Cape Town). It is directed by Kyla Davis (Well Worn) and the cast includes Khutjo Green (Well Worn), Mandla Moyo (Seka), Cebisa Fubesi (Jungle). The ‘Baobab Tree’ set is installed, designed and built by Godbish Bished (Zambia).

Performance type, dates and times: Family Theatre; 3rd to 12th July @4.30pm; Running Time: 50 minutes at the National Arts Festival 2014, Grahamstown. Daily outdoor performance at 4.30pm in the Botanical Gardens adjacent to the Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre.  Audiences are encouraged to bring a blanket or cushion to sit on.

The Baobab appears as part of the Re-Imagining Programme at the Rhodes Environmental Learning Research Centre as well as on the ASSITEJ Family Fare platform at this year’s National Arts Festival. The Baobab is generously supported and made possible by the African Arts Institute, Pro Helvetia, Arts and Culture Trust, The National Arts Festival Development Fund and our online supporters through Thundafund.com



Within every tree, every river and every creature on this Earth, each of our stories are infinitely told.  They whisper our names in the wind and beg that we listen more closely to what we used to know but have recently forgotten. Well Worn, Jungle and Seka Theatre Companies, 3 leaders in their field of ecological advocacy and social activism through theatre, collaborate for the first time across Southern Africa to bring you an outdoor African eco-play with sunset performances daily in the Rhodes Botanical Gardens at this year’s National Arts Festival.

Bookings are now live for the production at: https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/events/the-baobab/

Or follow us on twitter @wellworn

The Facebook event page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/293219277517971/?fref=ts

For more information contact Kyla Davis | m: 076 715 2414| e: kylalliandavis@gmail.com | w: www.wellworn.org.za



The Baobab will draw together for the first time, three Southern African sister companies: Well Worn Theatre in Johannesburg, Jungle Theatre in Cape Town and Seka Theatre in Mfuwe, Zambia. All three companies are leaders in their field of ecological advocacy and social activism through theatre. The collaboration will foster an exchange of skills and methodologies as well as a co-devising process which will result in new physical theatre production for the 2014 National Arts Festival. The production will premiere at the Festival on the Fringe programme, appearing daily at sunset in the Rhodes Botanical Gardens alongside the Re-Imagining programme at the Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre. The Baobab also appears as part of the ASSITEJ Family Festival.

Directed and Devised by Kyla Davis (Well Worn) and featuringKhutjo Green (Well Worn), Mandla Moyo (Seka), Cebisa Fubesi (Jungle) as performer-devisors, The Baobab Project is informed by the broader vision of the global Rights for Nature Movement, which aims to...

‘…create a positive vision for the future and a common African language on mediating our current and future relationship with nature. … a conversation that seeks to connect African people to progressive and alternative debates elsewhere in the world, while building a movement for solidarity, cooperation and empowerment to defend themselves and their natural communities from destructive forces emerging from modern day capitalism.’ *

This growing global social change movement acknowledges that nature, in all its life forms, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. Just like humans.

In 2011, Mphatheleni Makaulule of the Mupo Foundation in Venda invited Kyla to visit her and the ‘Big Tree’ in Limpopo. Aged over 3 500 years old and with roots that spread out for 5km, one can opt to take a mini-tour of the tree led by a local man. This mischievous character helpfully points out with his stick, various shapes found in the trunk and roots of the tree. He delights in expanding on these shapes (a crocodile, Jacob Zuma, maps of places and faces...) allowing them to grow into stories and proverbs. This visit provided the seed of inspiration for Well Worn: what if, within a single tree, there lived all the stories of the world, universal tales of human beings; our past, present and future as told by the trees, sky, water and earth around us.

Using the Baobab then, as a shared symbol of ecological empathy and indigenous African heritage, Seka, Jungle and Well Worn have created a collection of physical-theatre stories around one important theme: what is our relationship to nature today? Are we all, especially in urban environments, fully alert to our deeply intertwined dependency on the ancient and knowledgeable life systems that support us? If so, then how do we humans destroy them so easily? Could we find our way back, in our fast-paced, future world to a place where nature is still alive to us, also has rights to life?

The Baobab is also deeply inspired by the work of Mpatheleni Makaulule of the Mupo Foundation in Venda. The Mupo Foundation works actively to preserve and revive ecological and cultural diversity in Venda and South Africa. The Dzomo la Mupo (‘the voice of Mupo’) have this to say about their Sacred Sites…

‘Knowledge of the protection of sacred sites, and indigenous forests is held in the memory of the elders and in particular the women custodians (the makhadzis). The elders are experienced in the governance of their ecosystem for maintaining the territorial order and the balance of the seasonal cycles which regulate the climate. They recognise that sacred sites are vital in maintaining the health of their territory and human wellbeing, and as well as being home to an abundance of biodiversity, they are also the source of the water systems which flow through communities, providing them with life. When they are destroyed, a steady collapse of the environment and livelihoods will ensue, as we are seeing across the world.’*

Director Kyla Davis says of the process: ‘In order to create The Baobab play, the full company will first spend 10 days together in Zambia hosted by Seka in their Bush Theatre, followed directly by a further 4 days in Venda, drawing as much wisdom and indigenous knowledge as we can from Mupo and the Big Tree, the mighty source of the play! This immersive research and development process is designed not only to help us understand, support and learn from each other as sister theatre companies and lovers of nature, but also to provide the inspiration and material needed to grow our Baobab story.’


Baobab Eco-play 2

1. Khutjo Green, performer-devisor in The Baobab meets one of the twin Baobabs found in the South Luanga National Park in Mfuwe, Zambia.

 Baobab Eco-play

2. Artists from Well Worn Theatre Company, Jungle and Seka Theatres meet for the first time at Seka's home in Mfuwe, Zambia to explore images and collaborate on The Baobab Project.

 Baobab Eco-play 4

3. The Baobab Company visit the Sagole Tree, the largest and oldest Baobab in Southern Africa situated in Venda, Limpopo.

 Baobab Eco-play 5

4. Cebisa Fubesi, Jungle Theatre Performer and Kyla Davis, Director make Masks for the production using the Sagole Baobab tree as a mold.


Baobab Eco-play

For more pictures and to follow our creative journey and the making of the play via our Facebook page visit: https://www.facebook.com/WellWornTheatre

Should you require any further information or would like any more pics, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

We look forward to meeting you all.