Rhodes University’s Drama students shine despite COVID-19 restrictions

Rhodes University’s Drama students shine despite COVID-19 restrictions
Rhodes University’s Drama students shine despite COVID-19 restrictions

Drama studies is, by nature, a physical course. But instead of shelving its annual Performing Flux festival, the Drama Department reinvented it to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. Perhaps one of the hardest-hit Departments, this brilliant performance showcase pays tribute to the ingenuity, resilience and passion of our Drama staff and students.

“It being the year of COVID-19, our search for new forms had to reach new unfamiliar levels, as we were forced to make radical shifts in form, genre and style. Being a predominantly “physical” course, the pandemic saw us move from a “face-to-face” context to an online one,” said Dr Heike Gehring, Head of the Drama Department.

Historically known as Theatre in Motion, the Performing Flux programme has been one of the Department’s annual performance events for many years. It has served as a platform for performance, movement and site-specific experimentation – a laboratory with an active push towards exploration and boundary crossing.

“Never has the term ‘Performing Flux’ taken on so much significance – not only due to the fluid manner in which we had to adapt the works, but also due to the fact that the works were made during a time of global upheaval – a time of flux,” Dr Gehring explained.

To spark creativity among its students, the Department posed questions such as: “What does it means to be a performer during a time of isolation? What does it means to move people through performance during a time of physical distancing? What does it means to move one’s body during a time of stasis?”

“The result has been a collection of performative explorations, interrogations, impressions and fixations, all related to the theme of Performing Flux. We share these offerings with you, trusting that you will see them for what they are – brave acts of exploration or defiance during a time of no answers.  And it is in this spirit of finding new ways of being in performance that I welcome you once again,” Dr Gehring stated.

Below, please find the best of these inspired – and inspiring – performances:



In this Choreography course, various “architectures” of site are explored – Self as site, Camera as sight and the disruptions of Space through online choreographic encounters. These are the students’ first attempts at creating screendance, filmed on their cell phones.

“Thank you to Smangaliso Ngwenya for the two introductions to basic cinematography and for the inspired input and support throughout the process. Thank you also to the students who stayed open to learning in ways that none of us had anticipated,” said Associate Professor Juanita Finestone-Praeg.




Choreographed and performed by Nokulunga Ncongwane

For a moment I look into a space less violent than the home I call my body. I imagine myself indulging in the world outside which I see through a window. I fly out. Nature draped in tranquillity, juxtaposing the war happening on this side of the glass. For a moment, I … help-less in the rubble.

a numbness kicks in…

but blessed with the gift of bringing life into existence

yet placed inside the body of an ongoing


nurturing explosions

for a moment,            

take two capsules orally three times a day after a meal *may cause drowsiness*

An abstract film based on the personal life of the artist depicting her experience with an invisible illness. With diagnoses ranging from ovarian cysts, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, weight gain, hormone imbalances, stress induced pain, abdominal adhesions etc… – finding herself feeling lost in the lack of answers to explain what she’s going through. I, the choreographer and performer, had discovered the community of women with highly common yet under researched issues mirroring mine and realising the prominent barrier between us and the people who do not know the pain first-hand. This film provides the tiniest window into what it’s like living with an invisible illness that involves physical pain inflicted by one’s body – every, single, day.

Music and sound score: “8 Hours of Whale Sounds Deep Underwater for Sleep and Relaxation” by Jason Lewis – Mind Amend and “Talking people noise” by mdilligaf




Choreographed and performed by Lindsey Morris 

“This is the middle way of knowing that it has nothing to do with your decision to do this or not. Whether you decide that you can't make a mistake, or whether you don't decide it, it's true anyway. You are like cloud and water. And through that realization, without overcompensating in the other direction, you will come to the point where you begin to be on good terms with your own being, and to be able to trust your own brain.” – Alan Watts

During the current coronavirus pandemic our curriculum had been altered to suit a remote learning environment, during which we were encouraged to broaden our skills to capture our craft on our phone screens. This allowed me to see myself more often than I enjoyed, but offered me a perspective that has ignited creativity and delight.

Before Exhaling is a digital visual experience, exploring sensation in the body as an essence of life. It reveals a personal interpretation of experiencing turmoil, conflict and frustration in the self. It also offers a perspective that complements our sense of curiosity and our perpetual desires to feel more than what is in the present.

Music and sound: “Orbit” by Alice Phoebe Lou, “No Divide” and “Kiss The Breeze” by Sticky Fingers, “ASMR 1 Hour Scuba Diving Sounds” by Darlene Michaud (YouTube), “There are no Mistake in this Universe” by Alan Watts and “Alien Sound Effects” by superfunnysheet




Choreographed and performed by Miri-Joan de Wet

femme fa·tale

fem fəˈtal,ˌfem fəˈtäl/


an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her.

But what does she do when she is alone? When there is no one to impress, no one to manipulate, no one to love. When she is confronted with her own devious, sensual and vulnerable psyche. She takes a bath.

Music: A sonic montage created by Miri-Joan de Wet using samples of dialogue from Film Noir films as well as Sombre by Unloved (2018), “Gun” by Emilíana Torrini (2008) and “Gun” (remixed by MCKMN)

Videographer: Miri-Joan de Wet

Filming Assistant: Gustavo Amicis Mendes




Choreographed and performed by Tzu-Hui Chang


Foot /fʊt/


plural noun: feet

1. the lower extremity of the leg below the ankle, on which a person stands or walks.

How much weight can the foot hold? How far will the bearer of one’s weight go when it is overcome with the heaviness of anxiety, loneliness and curiosity? Through an episodic surreal lens, Dreaming in Steps… In Between My Toe (JAM) explores this weight through the fragmented quality of memory and dreams.


3 ACTs


Choreographed and performed by Otumile Molefe

This performance is divided into three acts. The first is titled “MONACHOPSIS” which means the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings – as a seal on a beach – lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, and unable to hear the ambient roar of your intended habitat. The second act is titled “WHELVE” which is to bury something deep, to hide, to roll or surge over something. The final act is “BALTER” which means to dance or tread clumsily.

Videographer: Orateng Molope

Music: “F Major” by Hania Rani, “Void” by Forest Bath, “Clothed in the dead skin of the dead” by Colin Stetson and “This life” by Tim Hecker.



Honours Physical Performance is a body-based and ensemble-focused performance course that typically culminates in a full-length production, created collaboratively between lecturer and students. This year, in creating this work, they faced many obstacles which, in turn, surfaced some exciting challenges.

“As most rehearsals and interactions had to occur via Zoom and other virtual conferencing platforms, the Department decided to centre its performances around this strange ‘new’ social world… where space is always limited, connections are often unstable, and someone is always frozen,” said Drama Lecturer, Dr Alan Parker.



A Zoom performance for five characters in search of … anything


Conceived and directed by Alan Parker, assisted by Julia de Rosenwerth

Performed by Tzu-Hui Chang, Miri-Joan de Wet, Otumile Molefe, Lindsey Morris and Nokulunga Ncongwane

Music: “Die Woud” by Bittereinder, “Fallen Leaves” by Billy Talent, “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas, “Around the World” by Daft Punk, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “Boom Boom Boom” by The Outhere Brothers, “Boom Boom Boom Boom” by Vengaboys and “Boom” by X Ambassadors



Interdisciplinary Performance Praxis is a new specialisation offered this year as part of the MA in Drama programme. The course is specifically designed for artists whose creative practices and research interests are not limited to a single artistic discipline or form, but rather the gaps, cracks and intersections occurring across multiple forms. In the course, students are encouraged to explore experimental, research-based performance approaches that are multimodal, cross-disciplinary and collaborative in nature. The projects being shared as part of this programme, are thus the result of various ongoing investigations.

“These explore, among other things, the possibilities within collaborative encounters, between artists in different disciplines or between the artist and their audience, as well as alternative opportunities for touch, participation and intimacy that technology and virtual performance platforms offer,” said Dr Parker.




Created by Julia de Rosenwerth in collaboration with Thulani Chauke and Josman P#

In the outside inside space responds to the Covid-19 restrictions by finding ways to adapt live performative practices to online, digital spaces and sees fragments of multimedia materials come together in various constellations. As part of a larger research project around relationality, In the outside inside space seeks to explore how materials affect and are affected by their relationship to other materials. Viewers are invited to explore the possibilities that these materials present.

This is a long-distance digital collaboration between Thulani Chauke (Johannesburg), Josman P# (Blanca, Spain) and myself (Makhanda). It has been created over the past four months and builds on existing artistic relationships we have formed over the past few years.

Web design: Julia de Rosenwerth



Choreographed and performed by Siphosethu Balakisi

An exploration of the notion of healing, with special attention to the unique ways in which we, as individuals, approach healing and cleansing rituals.

Here, we approach, explore, and utilise performance/performing as one of the many healing art forms.


What are your personal healing rituals/ practices?

1. Meditation and Movement


Directed by Siphosethu Balakisi and Viwe Madinda (MaVii)

Videographer: Juanito Featherstone

Music: “Mémoires du futur 2” by René Aubry


2. Cleansing Ritual


Directed by Siphosethu Balakisi

Videographer: Viwe Madinda (MaVii)

Music: “Umphefumlo” by Mthwakazi


3. Performance as Healer?


Directed by Siphosethu Balakisi and Nine

Videographer: Juanito Featherstone

Music: “Shamanic Drummings: Deep Trance Humming Meditation” by Meditative Mind


CASE #253


Created and performed by Axl Forder

The performance takes the form of a pick-your-own-adventure Youtube rabbit hole. The viewer is plunged into a series of abstract, surreal videos, images and voice recordings connected by recurring but elusive motifs. It is the role of the audience to piece together the clues and excavate the story from the shattered mess of nightmare dream fragments.

Music: Tom Waits, Dizzee Rascal and Throbbing Gristle


Theatre Director                      Selloane Mokuku

Production Manager                 Tersia du Plessis

Theatre Administrator              Gary Kitching

Design Supervisor                   Illka Louw

Head of Wardrobe                   Shiba Sopotela

Theatre Technician                  Sonwabo Maqanda

Workshop Manager                 James Fourie