“Generations,” a play written by Debbie Tucker Green and directed by Leah C. Gardiner is running at the Soho Rep Theater until November 9th. I had the pleasure of experiencing this play on Saturday, October 11th; I left the performance both amazed and filled with nostalgia from the set alone. As I walked into the Soho Rep Theater, I felt as if I had taken a quantum leap through space and landed in the Orange Farm Township in Gauteng. Having spent some time in a South African township, I was immediately moved by the authenticity of the set. I saw it in the well-known South African products surrounding the set; I saw it in the red, clay dirt on the floor that dusted my shoes upon entering the theater; I heard it in the Brenda Fassie music playing in the background; also, I saw it in the faces of some of the actors – most of whom were South African. One of the main characters in “Generations” is the South African-born actress, singer, and choreographer Thuli Dumakude. She was one of the many faces both on set and in the audience who had been involved with projects like Sarafina and The Lion King.
Most of the activity in the play takes place in the kitchen. In many cultures, including South African, the kitchen is a central gathering place for family and friends. Gardiner and the “Generations” crew did an excellent job of including the entire audience in the set. In fact, as an audience member I felt as if I were part of the cast. I quietly sat in my corner listening to the conversations of the family without the pressure of remembering my lines. That intimacy created by set designer Arnulfo Maldonado made the story line that much more compelling. I felt some emotional connection with some of the characters who were often close enough to touch.
Overall, Gardiner and her crew did an excellent job in capturing the essence of township living. I will leave the subject matter to the interpretation of the audience member. I will just say that it is a must see, if you’re able to make it to the show. I think that audiences will be as connected and invested as I was as an audience member. They will leave with a perspective that is different from the popular South African singing/dancing and pre-apartheid inspired productions. Instead, they will leave with a better understanding of South African as it pertains to the human condition. “Generations” is spell bounding. Please go see it and feel free to come back and share. ~Khotso
Honorable Mention: My very talented daughter, Thaka Machioudi, who continues to thrill me with her talent, beauty, and boundless creativity. Kea o rata.
More Information about Soho Rep and "Generations" @ SohoRep.org