Lebo Mashile is a poet, a performer, an actress, a TV presenter and soon to be a mother. But most importantly, Lebo Mashile is an artist. In “Threads”, Mashile collaborates with celebrated South African contemporary dance pioneer Sylvia Glasser and her Moving into Dance Mophatong (MIDM) to create a thrilling and textured theatre piece.
“Threads” serves as an extended metaphor for the way in which people are constantly weaving their lives and their identities together using history and memory. Poetry written and performed by Mashile intertwines with dance choreographed by Glasser and a sensitive sound score by Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Leon Erasmus to weave an emotionally rich tapestry of words, movement, scenic design, and sound.
The visually stimulating set and light design by Declan Randal composed entirely of strings suspended over the stage is knit into the show’s conceit of threading and weaving which Mashile carries throughout her stirring poetry. The set is imaginative use of the flowing and shifting set is wonderfully knit.
Throughout the piece Mashile (coached by theatre veteran Jerry Mofokeng) exhibits the glowing magnetism of a seasoned performer, able to infuse her poetry with an emotional dynamism which moves seamlessly from gravitas to levity.
MIDM company dancers (Muzi Shili, Sonia Radebe, Fana Tshabalala Thulane Chauke, Thandi Tshabalala Thembekile Setaibi and Themba Mbuli) assist Mashile in untangling the many complexities of human relationships.
The performers of “Threads” handle the emotionally charged subject matter (including the complexities of masculinity, femininity and gender relationships) with an imaginative precision that never feels heavy-handed or contrived.
The performance crescendos with a sublime paean to dance, art that serves as a rousing testament to the power of the creative imagination and an affirmation of the life threads that connect us all.