“You can’t change people’s perception with one play, but you can plant a seed to start awareness.”
This is how Jason Jacobs talked about As, a Woordfees production which deals with homophobia in South Africa.
As is a newly-translated play that looks at the attitudes towards gay people in the country; as well as the notions of family, love and acceptance. The play is a 2015 Standard Bank Ovation Award winner and traces the life of a young gay man through the eyes of six characters.
“In a society where being different is frowned upon, he aims to find a place where he feels comfortable and safe,” said Jacobs.
After the lead character comes out to his parents, they send him away from their small town to the city, in order to protect him, as well as to offer more opportunities. The play highlights the humanity of the characters and addresses the ideas of family and love.
As sends a powerful message of acceptance by family, but it is also about regret when it’s too late. Audiences at the Woordfees have been moved by theme of the play, as well as by the excellent acting and seamless switching between characters of the two-man cast.
“We used the same actors who starred in the original, Ashes, as they knew the story line and were thankfully both bilingual,” said director Philip Rademeyer.
Rademeyer is known for plays that include Siembamba and The View.
The drive behind the play is the violence against gay, lesbian and transgender people in South Africa. It was specifically inspired by three accounts of extremely violent murders of gay men in the greater Cape area in 2014. These attacks remained largely unreported in mainstream media. As attempts to highlight these issues in a way that will spark a debate and force society to acknowledge these issues.
“In one of the accounts a man was set on fire and I used that as a metaphor in that ashes is the remains after something is burnt,” Rademeyer said about the title.