Hip Hop artist prepares for first play

Monishia Schoeman is the writer, producer, co-director and actress in her first play.

Hip hop and rap artist Monishia Schoeman wants to break down negative perceptions of the Cape Flats in her first written play titled Memory is a Weapon.

Ms Schoeman, 39, a Kenilworth resident who is originally from Parkwood, says she had conceptualised the idea for the play 10 years ago.

“I never knew what it would end up looking like, though I wanted it to be a theatre production and wanted to talk about the things I am addressing in the play,” she says.

Although the play is a work of fiction, Ms Schoeman says the actors will share some of their experiences of living on the Cape Flats.

“The play also addresses the importance of dreaming and having a purpose and the importance of interrogating and understanding who we are culturally,” she says.

Ms Schoeman is the producer, co-director and plays the part of a hip hop MC called Mercury in Memory is a Weapon.

She is joined on stage by dancer and actress, Melissa De Vries-Joseph who portrays the character Chantel, actor Enrico Hartzenberg who plays Wes and Melanie Du Bois in the role of a mother.

The actors started rehearsing last November and did a promotional video at the Artscape theatre. As this is a self produced play, Ms Schoeman has started a fundraising campaign to urgently raise money to resume rehearsals in March to be ready for their performance at the Artscape in May.

“I am fundraising so that we can build enough capital so that we can pay for rehearsal space as well as pay actors for rehearsal time,” she says.

Ms Schoeman would like her play to premier at the Artscape in May, though because of the uncertainty of theatres reopening due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she may take an alternative route to featuring her play.

“We would have to hire a camera crew at our own expense which can film us at the same venue without an audience and then we can do a stream of the production,” she says.

Ms Schoeman says the streaming option may create a challenge as they would have to attract an audience online.

Ms De Vries-Joseph says this play will open up various conversations. “It will speak directly to the audience from the various areas of the Cape Flats and also share messages of hope.”

She has previously been in theatre productions such as Cape Town’s Most Wanted at the Artscape and on television in Arendsvlei and acted in the movie Bring it On:Worldwide#Cheersmack, which was shot in Cape Town.

Ms Schoeman has 20 years experience as a hip hop and rap artist.

“The medium I use is rapping, though I consider myself more of a storyteller, I use this craft to spread messages and tell stories to get people’s attention in different ways,” she says.

Over the years her rapping has taken her to places such as Seattle in America where she performed at the Red Bull music academy in 2005 as well as the African Festival in Bremen, Germany, in 2010.

At home she has featured at a hip hop festival at the Artscape from 2006 until 2008. She has performed at various clubs and lounges under the stage name of Eavesdrop and released her first album in 2018 called Scrolls of the Unseen.

For now she is focused on her first play and raising funds to assist in their preparation.

Ms Schoeman would like to attract an audience which is not familiar with the Cape Flats to have a unique experience from this play.

“The Cape Flats is a dynamic and complex structure especially when it comes to people, the message I want to drive to an audience is that they must understand the complexity of the people but also find the beauty inside of the area,” she says.

If anyone would like to assist Ms Schoeman with fundraising for Memory is a Weapon they can follow her at Gogetfunding by following the link at https://gogetfunding.com/memory-is-a-weapon-theatre-project/

Actress Melissa De Vries-Joseph portrays Chantel in the play.