Cheeky is not enough

by Diane de Beer
Production: Delela (Astrant)
Photos: Mark Wessels

Delela (which is translated as cheeky) has three young professionals, all bristling agenda, working the room and each other to create the perfect company. They’re all in it for themselves – nothing less than what’s in it for me. Their goal is direct and blistering.

Because of our apartheid past we are still trying to manage balance but in this instance (surprise, surprise) the oblivious white male (Daniel Barney Newton) is the problem. He is still battling the names if it isn’t Jack or Jill, doesn’t even recognise woke and isn’t much bothered by anything because he has, and believes he always will have, the power.

Two women step into his space; the one his sister (Frances Sholto-Douglas, obviously white) and the other, a sassy black woman (Katlego Lebogang), whom the siblings need more than anything as the face of the company. Neither of them wants to play ball and that’s when the peccadilloes fly loose.

It’s fun and funny, but here’s where my problems emerged.

In a universe where the so-called leading country of the free world is considering re-electing a racist, four times indicted, corrupt and misogynist president and 30 years on, in what is still sometimes referred to as our new democracy, I found myself yearning for a hard-line script and an approach that would deliver a disabling punch – not just laughter. It’s much too late for that.

With so much crumbling around us, all visible with predictably disastrous outcomes which we have suffered before, any gentle tidings should be long gone. We need to shout about evils like racism, which should have been eradicated, yet no one is listening.

All the familiar tropes are being trotted out here and we hear them so often, no one takes any notice. It’s all too familiar, it almost sounds safe.

We should find new ways to tell stories about race. We’ve been in transformation mode for more than 30 years. Those who haven’t moved on, should step up and those who don’t, should simply be left behind.

There were some gasps as if some of what was said was daring, but we need more now. Those who want to return to the good old days are making and breaking it their way. If we don’t take the gloves off, start shouting from the rooftops, it won’t make any difference.

Theatre is the safest place to tell our stories, to shape our worlds and to make sure we don’t take three steps forward and three back.

Let’s finally move on… 


  • Delela (Astrant)
    12 Oct 20:30 | 14 Oct 18:00
    HMS Bloemhof School Hall
    Tickets at the door.