“Seriti” is a Southern Sotho word meaning "shadow or pride of a human being, but also can refer to the spirit, which becomes one of the ancestors when they die".
For the purpose of this production, I use this braided frame of meanings to explore a crisis in representation of the black male body in a reflexive response to conversations with self and the ‘shadows’ that constantly confront one. Within contemporary South African townships, the performance of black masculinity has become frozen in behavioural stereotypes and theatre and the entertainment industry, in this work I suggest, in mirroring these images and dynamics, perpetuate the crisis. I am inquisitive to know if these living tropes can be disrupted/ruptured through re-embodying and re-enacting the stereotypes and the inter-generational relationship in which the violent black masculine modality is transmitted and preserved, and thus the spirit of Seriti can be recalled.
For this particular production I use my own body and two other male bodies, one older and younger, to explore the trans-generational ‘performance’ that preserves black male representation and in which the black male body is pummelled and shaped by a shifting or absent ‘self’ or Seriti; and by the replacement of self with a psychic as well as bodily language of violence. The black male body, marked by the violence of oppression, trauma, uses violence to survive, binding itself in the shackles of its shadow – rather than the true self-meaning of Southern Sotho meaning of Seriti “ Shadow or Pride”. This then is the focus this proposed work. That seeks on recalling and re-inhabiting that very real body and space of violence to see what lies inside it, to examine what it is made of, and to confront my own fear of it, knowledge of it, and memories of past sounds, sights, and dynamics that haunt and taunt the male psyche. Furthermore the work explores “the multitude of representations of masculinities and how they function within a constant negotiation of status they perform. Aesthetically engaging and a kaleidoscope of masculinities battling each other and loving each other in an attempt to break the cycle of patriarchy” Warona Seane (2018). “No culture in the world is limited to a single, static version of masculinity. Even within the context of South Africa, there is a plurality of masculinities (and femininities), all of them socially constructed and liable to change”. In this regard, Gary Barker and Christine Ricardo of the World Bank warn against essentialist stereotyping of African men (2005)