“Forgiveness is for the living, acceptance is for the dead” the resonating line from this hard hitting, no holds barred, thought provoking play now on at Joburg Theatre.
Starring legendary acting talent Jerry Mofokeng, and new comers Lea Viver, Francois Viljoen and Lisa Derryn Overy – this play is unlike no other. I knew I was going in for something different – what I wasn’t expecting was my own personal reaction.
Focussing on the, although well covered recent media frenzy, yet not often publicised topic of Filicide (mothers killing their children) this play takes a look at it from the perspective of the children who have lost their lives to a parent.
In fact, hard hitting may be an understatement – this is something that will leave you with tears in your eyes, wondering…what if?
Mothers suffering from depression, with a history of mental illness, and often undiagnosed, or unrecognised, instability and raising young children with severe illnesses – makes for an interesting discussion.
I don’t have children, and I have no idea what it would be like to raise children that are less than “normal” – not fully disabled, just not “normal”. The pressure and the stress, the sleep deprivation, coupled with your own mental instability may be more than slightly overwhelming. Do you need a history of instability, or would all of the above factors drive you over the edge?
The children in the play arrive in the middle of the night to the judge who ruled in their case, played by Mofokeng, as fully functional adults, and are able to articulate themselves with complete certainty. They proceed to explain to him how they need to learn to accept what happened to them – and move on with their “lives”.
Their mother took their lives when they were all under the age of 5, unable to cope with the pressure of raising these 3 children, suffering from SMA or Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which is a genetic disease that affects the nerves responsible for muscle function. Muscles waste away and lead to skeletal deformities, and difficulties with walking or standing. But although trapped in a deteriorating body, the minds of sufferers are as active and astute as yours or mine.
The case they make is that they were not disabled, although not fully functioning, they deserved a choice to live a full life – and that choice was taken from them by someone else. As they lay sleeping, their mother smothered them one by one, unable to cope with their “special” needs as a parent.
The public and the court tends to side with the side of the parent, here I am trying to imagine the pressure – but listening to the three children speak – you realise that these children have no voice – no one recognises that they have as much of a right to live – and at least have the opportunity to become an adult.
Many diagnosed with SMA are expected to die young, but they don’t, they go on to study, travel and marry – and lead a relatively normal life – so how do we justify filicide? There are past cases of SMA sufferers who have lived relatively normal lives – many of them in fact.
I walked out of the theatre shell shocked, in fact I may still be shell shocked as I write this – looking at something that never even infiltrated my realm of consciousness, like a filter has been removed from my eyes.
Directed by Simona Mazza, do not miss Acceptance on at The Fringe at Joburg Theatre until 16th October. Your frame of reference will be forever altered. And that is a good thing. Trust me.
Photo credits: Mariola Biela
Contact Joburg Theatre on www.joburgtheatre.com or call the Box Office on 0861 670 670.