After a phenomenal first run at the Pretoria State Theatre, Emmah Mabye, or Miss Emmah, will be bringing Clocking In to the Market Theatre on the 2 June 2018 and 3 June 2018.
KG: How did the show come about?
EM: I’d just released a book, Clocking In, and the Pretoria State Theatre said, “We know that you’re a poet. How would you like to have a show?”
So we decided take the book and bring it to life, incorporating all the poems from the book and adding more.
Clocking In will feature Miss Emmah herself, as well as Donald The Neosapien Mokgale and MoAfrica ‘a Mokgathi, bring words, sounds and a,song visuals together for a “meditation of themes from relatable experiences”.
“I want to take people on a journey, from somewhere to somewhere. The audience will fall in and out of love with us. They will laugh, cry, get angry, but be at peace at the end of it all. They will find solace.”
KG: Tell us about Clocking In the book
EM: Clocking In is a collection of poems from the past 8 years of performing and (less years) of performing.It’s 63 pages long (I think it’s pretty short), and has 20 poems. It came about when a man from church was just like, why don’t you just write a book?
“Had it not been for Word n Sound, I would have not thought that my lens can be worthy of writing a book.”
KG: Why now?
EM: Influence. It was the feeling of, Emmah, go do something with what you have. It came at a time when a lot of people published last year. It was a way to immortalize myself.
What I’ve learnt the most is, is not underestimate what you have. My book is going to countries I have not been. It’s been as far as Canada, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia. UK is coming.
KG: Whats your favourite poem from the collection?
EM: Diepsloot Baby was the poem I was like “it has to be there”. Because of the background to it. I remember the baby I saw, how my first experience there was just shocking.
“Behold the breastfed leaning tower of Pisa
Faculties voluntarily bottled in hand…”
– Diepsloot Baby
KG: How did you come to work with the other poets in your production?
EM: While talking to my director, Tony Miyambo, he was paging through the book and was bringing through elements we should bring it. While talking about it, because some topics are heavy, I thought of a poet, Donald, who could bring through a “lighter” element. I’ve worked with him before, I knew how we could murder crowds.
The original brief at the State Theatre was that you have to incorporate vernacular, so I thought of MoAfrica.
Another guy, who is not physically present, Lesika, does a poem in Southern Sotho. I met him in Free State in QwaQwa when I was doing my book tour. I fell in love with his poems. It was a no-brainer
KG: What was it like to hand over your work and adapt it to a theatre production?EM: Pride. It finally got here. That lasted for like 2 seconds. The production has me more excited, because there’s so much. The real work for the book began when we had to market it. Asking, will it sell. I didn’t revel in what we did. It really hasn’t sunk in. At my launch I was like, I have a book. That was the only day I got actually bask in your own glory. I don’t get excited about my own work a lot.
It’s theatre. It’s raw. Because of that rawness and real ness, you have to be true to it. Tony asked that we not see the Emmah that we’re used to. It’s the unpoised Miss Emmah.
Miss Emmah hopes the work will be a step towards the industrialization and recognition of poetry in the arts spaces.
EM: It’s a physical embodiment on what I would like to do. I like my work to ignite souls. It’s exploring how far I can go with my art, how far we can go with poetry.
How much are we producing? Yes we perform, but how much are we producing?
Our art as it is is not recognized. Poetry is not a stand alone. It falls under literature. It pains me to say that we’re not recognized.
In me saying I can explore what we’re doing, a guy called Sello asked where I act. And I’ve never acted before. I’ve fallen in love with theatre in a way I would have never thought possible. This happens when you allow yourself to explore something out of the norm.
KG: What’s next for you this year?
EM: To get this production to as many places as possible. I want to explore how far it can go. I’d told myself that after the book, I will rest, but 3 months later this production was out on the table. And I thought to myself, how often does one get a chance to bring their book to life.
Clocking In has two times; a night shift and a day shift.
Night shift: Saturday 2 June, 8pm
Day shift: Sunday 3 June, 3pm.
Tickets cost R100.
“I totally come out of my shell to a certain extent. Guys I’m stripping, I’m playing on stage, I’m really having fun!”