Live theatre has the power to consume you. Tin Bucket Drum devours you alive, body and soul. Our divine Nomvula, a spirited child with a revolutionary heart born into a country with a cruel and silent dictatorship in Tin Bucket Drum is a proud and vigorous young survivor who will not allow the system to crush the "unlawful rhythm" of her soul, or still the passionate beating of her heart.
From its opening you fully realise that you are in the presence of a unique creation; Neil Coppen's inspired text, which he realised with astounding vision, is brought to life through a tour de force wildfire performance by Mpume Mthombeni, vibrant direction by Karen Logan and haunting musical support from Wake Mahlobo. There is theatre you feel good to be at; with Tin Bucket Drum it's a rare privilege to indulge in its vigorous passion and richness. Amped with crucial themes that poignantly reflect the issues that confront us daily, Tin Bucket Drum's awakening of dreams, desires and rhythms is visceral. It magically bursts to life through sound, image and Mthombeni's masterful manipulation of impersonation and performance.
A profound, primal bond
The storytelling becomes alive in our minds; it's a profound, primal bond that awakens a realisation of how important it is to find a way to keep the rhythm in our own hearts alive, never to imprison our aspirations, or deny the lifeblood of what makes us human. Tim Bucket Drum feeds our life force and shows how the tiniest incident can miraculously feed our dreams and foster our hopes.
Mthombeni's powerful performance is one you will always treasure in your heart: she totally lives and breathes Africa; gently and with ease she captures the essence of the story, its immortal meaning, and her telling of the narrative is flawless.
"Making monsters from the mundane" and showing how the rhythm of expression can easily ravage our senses, Tin Bucket Drum shows how silence is "the way to salvation". It questions if men of power will ever be able confiscate our dreams, and if they manage to succeed, whether they will be able to break our spirit and silence our soulful journey?
As refreshing as a cool sea breeze
Tin Bucket Drum might seem like a complex story infused with elements of magical realism, shadow puppetry, Kabuki theatre and live percussion, but is as refreshing as a cool sea breeze. We are little Nomvula who grew up to follow her heart: "When our desires spread like wildfire, they will not be able to kill its flames," the play states, and with this we realise that the rhythm of Africa is universal; and that it does indeed cure all madness. What happens if we become a danger to the implosive silence? The extraordinary implodes and explodes with dramatic intensity in Tin Bucket Drum, masterfully blending storytelling at its ultimate, spectacular vision, powerful performance and a vivid realisation that culminates in an unforgettable theatrical experience that is bold and daring.
Important issues that the play questions are: "If freedom of expression is the work of the devil? And if "it is wrong to true to our nature"? Coppen's inventive and inspired creation bridges the gap between generations, cultures, and between who we are and who we truly hope to be. We blissfully enter a mindscape of surreal expressionism that offers mythical African storytelling at its best, where fantasy and reality bleed into our own respective realities.
It reveals that we will only know when the time is right for us to be true to ourselves if we afford ourselves the luxury to listen. Tin Bucket Drum opens a wound of suspense; the more we discover and uncover, the more we want to know. Liberating the demons controlling our hearts, Tin Bucket Drum is a relentless battle between those who have the power to control, and those who empowers themselves to overthrow fascist dictatorship.
Tin Bucket Drum is a vitally important expression of how children (or outsiders living in the shadows of humanity) can awaken our true sensibility; the little drummer girl definitely changes our world in the most delightful way.
Setting us free from stifling conformities
Tin Bucket Drum is theatre at its most significant, igniting our imaginations and setting us free from stifling conformities.The impact of Tin Bucket Drum is immediate and everlasting, like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables: "When the beating of our hearts echoes the beating of the drums", a new tomorrow definitely dawns.
Tin Bucket Drum allows us to explore our roots and where we come from; making it clear that there is an eternal bond between the past and the future that shines an ethereal light on our humanity and guides us to a place where our hearts beat freely. How dare we deny the destiny of what makes us tick? And what will we do to keep the rhythm of our souls alive? This intimate quest to never lose the rhythm of our life is endearing. Ultimately, the silence must be broken, and even if the "heavens remain silent" and we feel betrayed, we should never think we have "tin hearts". And just like the matchbox (whose last match lights an eternal fire), Nomvula's empty silence stirs a longing hope. Pour your heart into Tin Bucket Drum, you will overflow with happiness and feel good about who you are and having your own unique voice that echoes in eternity.
Tin Bucket Drum shows at Kalk Bay Theatre Wednesday to Sunday until 8 September at 8pm. Tickets cost R100. On Wednesday, 21 and Thursday, 22 August, tickets are two for the price of one. Bookings on www.kbt.co.za. Guests can enjoy Funki Chef's Meal of the Day before or after the show. Contact Hannah on +27 (0)72 714 9559.
For more on Tin Bucket Drum, go to www.writingstudio.co.za/page1746.html.
Photography by Jesse Kramer