The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri

Seen on July 8, 2015 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

Childhood memories of hair are uttered with movement full of uncertainty. Insecure body language speaks loudly. Thirty minutes before I lost my hair. Five days after I lost my hair. Hair and time, past and present. But the fondness of hair leads to memories of a father who was a hair stylist, all calculated in time. The loss of hair becomes a loss of hope as the son grieves the bereavement of a father, exploring his relationship with flashbacks, memories, trying to make sense of it as things fall apart. Fragments of songs like “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child”, “Ain’t no sunshine when she is gone”, “Stand by me” add to expressing the grief of a son.

In this solo theatre produton Tony Miyambo tells a very personal narrative on his own, voicing his grief and using blank wooden blocks and a table to reconstruct to  his bedroom is, the cemetery structure or the hairsalon. In many places in the world this hairsalon has been a place of community and relationships, where truths and half-truths are told, people connect and go on about their business.

Some of the remaining images provoked by Miyambo are: sitting on a train struggling to find balance, walking in father’s shoes, the question of hair still grows after death, calling the same old voicemail to hear his father’s voice until that one is cut off, the loneliness of the taste of cabbage that Dad coocked and made you forget there is no meat, it was a performance and before I knew it the curtain fell, loosing a grave.

All the repetition, moments counted before and after loss of hair, carefully constructed building blocks finale when the music is no longer fragmentary but all the whole song of “Stand by me” plays whilst an enormous cemetary is completed.

The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri is a courageous personal story told in warm sephia colours that invite to be gentle with the one that griefs and to be gentle with yourself if you are the one that is grieving.

Played by: Tony Miyambo

Directed by: Gerard Bester

Dramaturgy: William Harding

Lighting design: Julian August

Produced by: Gita Parther