South Africa’s spirit of community told through UBUNTU

Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops stages UBUNTU (The Cape Town Project) in Vernon for one performance Thursday, March 22.

Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) is coming to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) is coming to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

The flat top of Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope, where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic, may be a world away from the rolling arid hills and winding Thompson River, but it’s where two theatre communities have met for a cross-cultural celebration.

Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops is currently working with two visiting South African performers and three Canadian actors to stage Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project), which is coming to Vernon for one performance this week.

The play incorporates traditional dialogue (including Xhosa and Afrikaans), South African storytelling, music and dance to create a piece that, according to the The Coast in Halifax, “pulses with life and hope… a vibrant mix of intrinsically interwoven music, dance and theatre.”

Ubuntu is about family and identity and where you belong – it resonates with everyone,” said the play’s director Daryl Cloran.

The word “ubuntu” translates as “I am because we are” and is a celebration of the human spirit. It follows one man’s journey from South Africa to Canada in search of a father he has never met, and a past that he has pieced together.

“In South Africa, ubuntu refers to the spirit of community, the belief that humanity is tied together,” said Cloran, who was appointed as artistic director of Western Canada Theatre in July 2010.

Before that Cloran was the founding artistic director of Toronto’s Theatrefront, and it was in that capacity that he went to South Africa to create Ubuntu with Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre Centre.

The South African theatre company was one of the first to use both black and white performers on stage together during the years of apartheid, said Cloran, adding that political reality not only inspired him, but inspired the direction of his play.

About to tour B.C., Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) debuts in Vernon at the Performing Arts Centre Thursday at 8 p.m. before  going  to Kelowna, Kamloops, Chilliwack and Vancouver.

Tickets for the Vernon performance are $40/adult, $37/senior, $35/student, $5/eyeGO at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 549-7469 or order at