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SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill - Review

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by JC (subscribe)
I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Event: -
A true storya soulful performance

The SS Mendi, also known as the Black Titanic, set sail from Cape Town in early 1917. Onboard were hundreds of black South African's recruited to support Allied forces fighting in France during WWI. In the early hours of February 21, amid a thick English Channel fog, the Mendi and a cargo ship collided. The Mendi sank and to the shame of the cargo ship Master, no assistance was offered to the men on board—646 people died.

The men showed incredible courage in the face of their pending death. Calmed by the words of their interpreter Isaac Williams Wauchope, "Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa say you are my brothers... Swazis, Pondos, let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your war-cries, brothers, for though they made us leave our assegais (pole weapon) in the Kraal (cattle enclosure), our voices are left with our bodies".

SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill is performed by Cape Town's award-winning Isango Ensemble, who have played to sold-out audiences across the world. This is a tragic story told with simple props and a stripped-back production. But with soulful voices, the Isango Ensemble filled the theatre with emotion. Sadness for the obvious cruelty in this story, admiration for the courage demonstrated by those who died and a feeling of connection when faced with such a shameful moment in our collective history.
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Why? Theatre
When: September
Where: QPAC Playhouse
Cost: $47 to $65
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