Washa Mollo

Washa Mollo is a collaborative project between 5 Southern African women between the ages of 38 and 50, namely Makgathi Mokwena, Mary Manzole, Kiswigu Mpyanga , Sara Matchett and Tracey Human. Makgathi Mokwena, Sara Matchett and Tracey Human are based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; Mary Manzole is based in Lusaka, Zambia; and Kiswigu Mpyanga is based in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. All five women have varied and extensive experience in performance in their three respective countries. Sara Matchett, who directed the production, has engaged with Mary, Makgathi and Kiswigu in various capacities. It was during these encounters that Sara was inspired to get these women to collaborate on a production that explores personal narratives and mythologies in relation to collective narratives and mythologies.

Washa Mollo explores the possibilities theatre holds for facilitating conversations across geographical borders. The linking metaphor is that of Fire. Why Fire? Makgathi first approached Sara about collaborating with her on a piece that explores the fire energy within her; the energy that ignites a journey of healing; the energy that ignites the masculine principle in the core of her being. Kiswigu performed a ritual fire dance as part of her final performance exam at Wits and Mary performed a site specific piece where she built a fire and lit it.

Washa Mollo is a combination of seTswana and kiSwahili. Washa in kiSwahili means to iginite and Mollo in seTswana means Fire. Washa Mollo makes extensive use of storytelling and physical theatre as it explores the personal narratives of the three performers in relation to the collective narratives of loss and grief that they have all experienced. Their various journeys towards healing are traced in parallel to a myth which takes the form of an African Heroine’s journey. The myth is inspired by the seTswana song Senanapo as well the yogic chakra system. In essence, the protagonist of the myth takes an inward journey through the seven chakras, towards healing. This production is a first to be created of an intended trilogy/body of work that explores the heroine’s journey from disconnection from self to ultimate reconnection with both masculine and feminine aspects of Self at a spiritual level. The piece premiered at the Bagamoyo Arts Festival in Tanzania, performed at the Wits Nunnery Theatre and at the Out the Box Festival in Cape Town. The also performed on the Arena platform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2010.

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Washa Mollo - Grahamstown National Arts Festival Performance

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