Tswalo: lyrical prose meets physical theatre

Tswalo is a tale told through lyrical prose, poetry and physical storytelling entwined to interrogate the rules that govern life on Earth, such as power, creation, politics, connection, and intuition – the performers’ expression of his ‘source’ being a spiritual quest that gives the audiences the baton to walk through their own paradigm of ontology, Tswalo’s poetry, prose and stories furnish us with the necessary tools into a deep meditation.

Mutle Mothibe caught up with Billy Langa ahead of his performance at Word N Sound Poetry league on Saturday 6 May at the Market Theatre Laboratory.

Mutle: Tswalo is described as a play that “undoubtedly begs the question (or theory) of being, becoming and unbecoming”. As a performer of this work, how has it changed your view on your own life and your professional life as performer?
Billy: Tswalo has taught me to allow process to take over, that in the making of work the maker sometimes becomes the subject. The work starts teaching you about the truths of moments. I have learnt to trust my sacred ideas, that sometimes that is where the joy lives. It’s okay to openly explore them.

Mutle: You have performed the work many times and have had many conversations after the show with audience members. What seems to be the recurring subject or layer the audience comments on after seeing the play?
Billy: The audience comment about the moment when the performer morphs from Ape to Man. And the recreation of the story of “Creation”.

Mutle: Performance Poetry/Prose is a craft that needs one to be knowledgeable on its intricacies and at times this is overlooked in the poetry circles. As a student, which books made the most impact on how you view writing and how you approach acting?
Billy: I collect knowledge from watching, this is in relation to my acting influences. I watch a lot of Theatre, heightened performance works… I binge on The National Theatre live (London) a channel on YouTube.

Mutle: Can you recommend 2 books on performance and on prose writing?
Billy: Books of Prose/poetry: The Language of Poetry and Milton’s Paradise Lost

These made me not fear to write epic, and sometimes short.

Mutle: Every artist seems to have a daily regimen, whether reading daily for certain amount of hours or keeping their bodies fit through daily exercise. Do you have such and if so could you share with us?
Billy: I do not have any, I just rehearse it over and over, allow myself to be silent in it and feel its life without my brain in there.

Catch Billy Langa live at Word N Sound Poetry League at The Market Lab in Newtown on Saturday  6 May.

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