Durban-based award-winning theatre company – Empatheatre has been invited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to present their hard-hitting play – Lalela Ulwandle (Listen to the Sea) at this year’s COP27 (6-18 November) in Egypt.
The production has been invited by the UNFCCC (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Secretariat to perform the award-winning theatre play Lalela uLwandle (Listen to the Sea in isiZulu) at the Capacity-building Hub of the Blue Zone of COP27 (14 November 2022, 17.40-18.40 Egypt time).
The company is currently running its critically-acclaimed work Isidlamlilo – The Fire Eater featuring the award-winning actress Mpume Mthombeni at The Sneddon Theatre, UKZN which ends on Wednesday 9 November.
Following this Durban season, they rush off to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to perform their much-toured, impact theatre work Lalela Ulwandle at the “Oceans and Land” day event at the Capacity Building Hub at COP27.
Lalela Ulwandle explores themes of intergenerational environmental injustices, tangible and intangible ocean heritage, marine science, and the myriad threats to ocean health. Essentially this piece is an invitation to a participatory public conversation on ocean governance in South Africa (and beyond). The work was initially funded under the One Ocean Hub, the five-country hub of researchers exploring more democratic methods of engagement in ocean governance, and it is under this banner that the work will be seen at COP27.
“Finally we are bringing Empatheatre to the decision-making conference halls!” enthuses director Neil Coppen.
“This means that these real stories are finally entering the United Nations, unedited and fully embodied! Through One Ocean Hub we have a spot in the Oceans and Land day event which seeks to respond to the mandate from COP to integrate and strengthen ocean-based action in their capacity-building efforts. In this context, there is a need for knowledge systems that include scientific, traditional, local, and indigenous knowledge to support decision making.”
“Our play, which has been touring South Africa since 2019 holding public storytelling events and tribunals has gathered thousands of coastal peoples’ spiritual, cultural, and scientific understandings of the oceans in these critical climate-stressed times,” continues Coppen. “We have performed through droughts and floods, through pandemics and political struggles- through personal losses and through massive shifts in the way we work and practice.”
Lalela Ulwandle (Listen to the Sea) which features Alison Cassels, Mpume Mthombeni and Rory Booth is directed by Neil Coppen, and written by Coppen, with contributions from Helen Walne, Gcina Mhlophe, Mpume Mthombeni, Dylan McGarry, Taryn Pereira, Kira Erwin. The UFC (Urban Futures Centre) at DUT has been deeply involved in the production from the outset under the leadership of Dr Kira Erwin.
Catch Empatheatre’s Isidlamlilo – The Fire-Eater features Mpume Mthombeni, at The Sneddon, UKZN, Durban for 2 performances only on 8 November at 7pm and 9 November at 11am before they head to Egypt to present Lalela Ulwandle. Tickets are available at Computicket.