Theatre Review- ‘I am John’: A true celebration of the life and times of John Muafangejo
Director: Sandy Rudd
Playwright: Sandy Rudd
Musical Director: Lize Ehlers
Choreography: Haymich Oliver
Visual: Florian Schott
Cast: Peter Mwahalukange, Frieda Mukufa
‘I am John’ is an hour-long celebration of a great Namibian artist. Yes, I know he is a great man because I have seen the production. It is a celebration of fine art and togetherness. The production easily lived up to its hype.
Rudd and Ehlers delivered what they sold. The entire show had the most terrific combination of raw art and humane elements I’ve ever experienced in a theatre production. As young as I am, I have never fully understood John Muafangejo’s art better; he figuratively told his stories in black-and-white linocuts, with a very strong narrative component, speaking his joy and pain, with the latter seemingly driving his creativity.
Rudd’s production brought Muafangejo’s paintings to live, literally. Schott’s impressive visual undertakings perfectly intertwined with the traditional Oshiwambo hymns which were equally aligned with Oliver’s choreographic deliverance. Despite the, dare I say; tad bit messy choreography, I was able to understand the dramatic and humorous incidents of Muafangejo’s life: He was a lonely man, longing for companionship.
Rudd understood that Muafangejo’s concern was the life and fate of his own Oshiwambo (Kwanyama) people, especially their social and personal conditions and interactions and by carrying this throughout the production, she was able to incorporate religion, love, friendship and reconciliation with big emotions, big melodies and thrilling, yet oddly satisfying dance art which made for a great work of entertainment.
‘I am John’ is truly a celebration of the life and times of John Muafangejo.