Tag Archives: Afrovibes

Phillip Dikotla on the Skierlik Tragedy and its Impact on South Africa


In 2008, in the  South African settlement called Skierlik, 17-year-old Johan Nel went on a racially motivated killing spree.  In response to this tragic event, award-winning playwright/actor Phillip M Dikotla wrote the play Skierlik, telling the story of Thomas, whose wife and baby were two of Nel’s victims, as he returns to the scene of the carnage. This undeniably powerful one-man show, starring Phillip, is here tonight and tomorrow (16 & 17 October, 7.45pm) as part of Afrovibes festival.  Ahead of the performances, he delves into why he chose this difficult subject matter and his creative process.

When I started working on this project, it was an unconscious process of creation, where I was driven by questions and/or curiosity, and the more I tried to find answers and understanding in relation to the Skierlik event, which at first struck a lot of fear in me, the story wrote itself.

Because I am a performer and have always wanted to ‘act’ – which to me meant having fun and telling stories and making people laugh – I had disregarded what I now refer to as a ‘voice’…my voice; what I want people to leave with after the show. As Skierlik grew, I would interrogate each and every experience, and realized that there is something I want to say, and the more I wrote the more I had to say.

The more I travel with my mind and engage my imagination, the more I understand what this story stands for, what it represents in this new South Africa today. And more importantly, it is told by a young person – me – who has no experience of being a father. All the characters in the play are older than me, and have experienced life more than me.

I have a wild imagination and at first only visited Skierlik in my mind; by the time I actually went to Skierlik, everything was as I experienced it in my imagination. I have never met Thomas, but through my little experience as a story teller I realize that a character is not what is written, but what the actor experiences in the presence of an audience. So in a nutshell, I don’t prepare for the character. As a story teller, you can’t be prepared for an experience like this one.

Phillip Dikotla

Phillip M Dikotla is a 24-year-old South African playwright, actor, and comedian. An Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) Impact Award recipient for theatre 2012, he was part of the cast of the Naledi Award winning production Sekwatlapa 2010, writer of the Zabalaza Festival Best production Skierlik 2013 (Standard Bank Ovation Award recipient 2013, and Best New South Africa Script Fleur De Cap nominee), Nominee for best actor at the Zabalaza Festival 2013 and a Fleur De Cap winner for best performance in a one-man show.

Skierlik plays here Thursday 16 & Friday 17 October, 7.45pm as part of Afrovibes festival of South African culture. For more information and to book tickets, click here.


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Afrovibes Gets a Dose of Chill Pill

Afrovibes 2014 'REVIVALISTS'Only a week to go until Afrovibes, a festival celebrating South African culture, takes over Deptford with award-winning theatre, music and dance. As part of the festival, our associate company Chill Pill have headed to Amsterdam to work with the South African artists of The Revivalists, where they will sample sections from four well-known plays and transform them to make statements about their identities. The Revivalists will have its only UK performance with us on Friday 17 October, 7.30pm. Chill Pill poet Adam Kammerling lets us know how rehearsals are progressing in Amsterdam so far: 

What links Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, Euripides’ The Bacchae, Henry Ibsen’s The Enemy Of The People, Maria Stuart by Schiller and Shakespeare’s Othello? Answer on a postcard please.

Me and long time Chill Pill compadre, Stephanie Turner, are all up in Amsterdam working on a show called The Revivalists. It’s a theatre show that aims to find the answer to the above question. The Revivalists are a crew of incredible South African artists, all from different disciplines, reviving classic texts in their own styles, telling their personal stories through monologues in the aforementioned texts. A narrative has emerged organically over the process of development and the show is getting pretty epic.

The experience has been deep in a thousand ways for a thousand reasons. Firstly, theatre practice is SERIOUSLY different to the life of isolated key bashing/pen scratching that us poets inhabit. There’s more sweating. More dancing. More trusting.

Secondly, the vision of Maarten van Hinte and Marjorie Boston, and the current cast is huge. The span of themes being pulled in through the filter of these texts is amazing. The process of cyphering allows everything in to interact with everything else. If you have an idea, you realise it as fully as possible and then the group decides if and how it can play out in the entire piece. The process is a conversation of short works (and then actual conversations) between all the artists. It makes for the richest and most creative space I have ever worked in.Adam Kammerling

We rolled up to a fashion event on Sunday and ran a short extract of the piece. The other performers, who are mainly theatre makers, are all seriously amazing and we blew some unsuspecting minds. First full run is this weekend and we’ll be doing the show at the Albany on the 17th. We can’t wait.

Meanwhile, back in the land of London, the rest of the gang have sorted out some cracking acts for our parties in the Township Cafe during Afrovibes UK. Not to mention our Chill Pill show on the 16th, featuring South Africa’s own Toni Stuart and London Zulu. I am very excited.

Right. Back to rehearsals.


Adam Kammerling, Poet, Chill Pill

Chill Pill will perform with The Revivalists artists throughout the week of Afrovibes festival at three different events: Chill Pill Plus… (Wednesday – Friday 17 October, 8.30pm), Chill Pill: Afrovibes (Thursday 16 October, 7.30pm) and The Revivalists (Friday 17 October, 7.30pm). 

For more information about Afrovibes and to book tickets, click here.

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