The Primetime Festival presents storyteller Jacqui Du Toit’s Once Upon A Time, An African Theatrical Storytelling Production, created with Origin Arts and Community Centre. After gathering round a 8-bit, virtual campfire in gather.town, audience members are lead to a Zoom meeting where the performance unfolds.
This atavistic phenomenon of gathering round a fire for a story is a defining motif. Du Toit voice and physical gestures cast an intense spell. The projected image of a fire and the dancers surrounding it heighten the sense mythic resonance. The drum and and chant accompaniment by Denis Kashi completes the mood.
The drum figures quite prominently in the first of the two stories Du Toit tells. “Many, many moons ago…” a young girl is contacted by an ancient “sound, beat, pulse”—a creative force that leads her to create the first drum out of stretched animal skin. The sound, beat, pulse is released into the world where it can be a viscerally social bond.
In the second story, the many colours of the world fight for supremacy, each articulating the reasons for their greater importance. Du Toit creates a number of different personas, her voice and body language transforming for the personality of each colour. After highlighting the aspects of our world that are evoked by each colour, we discover how vital each is in their own way, suggesting how our differences can strengthen us.
This has been flagged with the suitable for all ages icon; the performance seems most ideal for quite young children. There is some play with mist and light, but the core of this is Du Toit’s persuasive presence.