Cape Flats Actress, Denise Newman Celebrates The Life Of Anti-Apartheid Heroine, Dulcie September By Cheryl Roberts

3 Jul
denise newman

denise newman

Dulcie September

Dulcie September

Cape Flats actress, Denise Newman isn’t just a ‘trained actress’, of stage, film and screen. This Cape Flats actress is a performer with a consciousness that never betrays freedom, justice, humanity. It’s no wonder then that scripting a life story and performing it live, about legendary anti-apartheid activist, Dulcie September would be undertaken in her lifetime of bold, dazzling and deep theatrical performances.

‘Cold Case’, which premiers at the National Arts festival in Grahamstown, is not just another story about another human life. It’s a stage production about a woman who gave her lifetime for freedom of oppressed South Africans and who never got the chance to smile when freedom day dawned and ushered in the democratic society.
Dulcie September, grew up in Stellenbosch, became a struggle activist and fought apartheid and oppression in South Africa. After bannings and harassment by the apartheid regime’s vicious security, she then went into exile and joined the banned African national Congress, a liberation organization she served with tireless dedication. After years of unselfish commitment to freedom from oppression, Dulcie September was tragically gunned down in Paris, France. At the time of her brutal slaying, Dulcie September was representing the ANC at their international office in France.

Actress Denise Newman doesn’t want the memory of Dulcie September to be forgotten: she wants it to be remembered and celebrated.

Why Dulcie September?
This production in the format of ‘Cold Case’s about us not forgetting the roads we traveled to fight apartheid and the activists who committed their lives to justice. Our focus on Dulcie September’s life is about celebrating a tireless fight against oppression and a life that helped get our freedom. We should never forget those personal sacrifices for freedom to be realised in South Africa.

Where did the idea come from, to remember the amazing life of Dulcie September?
I always had this idea that we should tell stories we feel connected to and that gets relegated as we move along in history. I got the idea in January this year and approached Basil Appollis who immediately reacted positively, loved the idea and said let’s get started.

And how did the production get started?
An approach to arts funding agencies to be associated with the theatrical production, didn’t garner a response. But this didn’t deter Denise Newman, who got going with no funds; just the passion and enthusiasm to script and perform Dulcie September’s life on stage. We got going with the research, spoke to Dulcie’s family and friends, visited the archives, read newspapers and came up with treasured memories of Dulcie September. Writers Sylvia Vollenhoven and Basil Appollis took the research and wrote the script. I am privileged to be performing live on stage.’

It’s a few days before the production premiers at the National Arts Festival. Are you ready for the opening?
‘I could do with another week. It’s such a huge story, a bit long which confronts one with what to omit and delete and what to include. Its also such a rich and detailed life and we are confronted with the challenge of what to leave out and what to include.
In ‘Cold Case’, we touch on Dulcie’s life as a child growing up in Stellenbosch, her bannings and security harassment and her decision to leave South Africa and go into exile and join the ANC.

Was it painful and hurting to research and write about Dulcie September’s life?
It was certainly inspirational. Dulcie’s focus on women and children was paramount to her existence, hen human rights.

And Dulcie September’s Death? Do you answer it in ‘Cold Case’?
No. Dulcie’s death is not resolved in ‘Cold Case’. Until today, her death hasn’t been closed. We don’t know who is responsible for Dulcie September’s murder. We leave the audience with many questions and plots to wade through; hence, the productions title ‘Cold Case’. Her death was indeed brutal and tragic, but the focus is less on who murdered her and more about her life of humanity and commitment to fighting injustices.

And after NAF in Grahamstown, where will the production be performed?
For now, we are all focused on the NAF. No other dates or venues are finalised. But performances in Cape Town and the Western Cape are being planned. After the NAF we will have a better idea of audience reaction and how we could further develop and tweek the production.

* ‘Cold Case’ is performed by Denise Newman, directed by Basil Appollis and written by Sylvia Vollenhoven and Basil Appollis

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