THE CRADLE UNDER THE SHADE
a new one-act opera by Matthew MacFarlane
Date: Friday, 25 November at 16:00
Where: Gauteng Opera Offices,
5-7 Miriam Makeba Street, Ferreirastown – Jhb
Duration: 30 Minutes – no interval
Tickets: Free of charge, but please confirm attendance with Bongani Nomcweya before or on 24 November
Gauteng Opera commissioned a 30-minutes one-act opera from the composer as a vehicle for the Academy trainees to prepare for their practical production examination. It will be directed by up-and-coming director Tshepo Ratona and young designer, Lungile Cindi designed the set and costumes.
The Cradle Under the Shade is based on a sub-Saharan bushmen myth about how the world was created. It plays out from the perspective of a father telling his children the story around a fire one night. As the father begins to narrate, we are transported into the mythical world and get a first-hand view of how the story unfolds.
A very long time ago, people and animals did not live in the world as we know it today. They all lived deep below the earth’s surface in peace and harmony. People and animals could communicate with each other. The world below was an idyllic place where it was always comfortably warm and light. This world was created by the great Kang, lord of all life. This was his world and these were his people.
Kang appointed an elder amongst his people. The elder was known as Mama who was a mother figure to all. He bestowed upon Mama great wisdom and knowledge. Kang was the great creator after all and was not always around in person, so he relied on Mama to be a guide, educator and mediator for the people. Kang was very pleased with the world below, but being the creative force that he was, he was constantly coming up with new ideas. One day, he was inspired to create a world even more marvellous and spectacular than the world below.
This world, he would build above the earth’s surface. Kang told Mama of his plan and created the world above. Once it was complete, he summoned all the people and animals to enter the new world above. He instructed them to climb up the roots of the trees, and to crawl through the tunnels that he made. Up and out into the new world.
The new world was truly awe inspiring but Kang had something very important to tell the people before he left them alone to explore. He told them that this world was beautiful but fragile and because of this, they should never make a fire as it would spell disaster to the fragile balance of things. With that explicit instruction he left, and they were free to explore and get to know their new world. At the end of the day, the sun began to set and it grew darker and colder. This was the first-time people had ever experienced such a phenomenon because in the world below it was always light and warm.
They started getting scared because of this, but Mama reminded them of Kang’s instructions and assured them that everything would be all right once they were used to it. Mama wanted to do a bit of exploring before the sun set completely so she told them not to wander too far away while she was gone. Once Mama was away, and it got darker, a disobedient child saw this as an opportunity to show off. He thought that if he made a fire, everyone would consider him a hero for providing light and warmth.
Disregarding Kang and Mama, the naughty child made a fire. The animals were frightened by the fire and ran away. They fled to the caves, trees and mountains. Anywhere they felt the humans and the fire could not easily reach them. The peace and harmony between people and animals was broken. Mama returned and found out what had happened. She knew that the world was now forever different and that she would have to use her knowledge in order to survive in this imperfect world.
She punished the naughty boy, making him work the hardest and not allowing him the freedom to play and explore until he learnt his lesson. Kang sensed that a fire was made and was deeply hurt. He felt betrayed because to him the fire meant that the people did not trust him or respect his precious world of peace and harmony.
Since then Kang did not visit his people. Instead, he watches from a distance. Waiting to see if
harmony will ever be restored.
Father finishes the story and tells his children that they should treat animals with respect because they were our dear friends a long time ago before the fire scared them away. All life on earth is precious.
So bring your children to experience this fascinating story while introducing them to Opera.
Safe parking available behind Gauteng Opera offices – corner of Anderson & Margaret Mcingana Streets.