At Her Feet unpacks issues on stage

Nadia Davids, writer and director of At Her feet, left, and actress Quanita Adams.

At Her Feet, the play which tells the shared experiences of four Capetonian Muslim women after the 9/11 attacks, will be returning to the Baxter Theatre this month for the first time in 14 years.

The acclaimed play is written and directed by Nadia Davids and stars her long-time friend and actress, Quanita Adams.

This run of the play will be an emotional one for Ms Adams as it will be the last time that she will take part in it.

At Her feet goes all the way back to 2002. Ms Davids, 40, from Woodstock, started writing the play a year after the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers in America.

“I wanted to make a piece of work that pushed back against the problematic, upsetting and difficult ways in which Muslim women were being portrayed in the media and I wanted to write a piece that reflected with accuracy with love, feminism and humour as well as critique, the kind of experiences I had growing up and I automatically knew that Quanita was the person that I wanted to make the work with,” said Ms Davids.

Ms Davids and Ms Adams know each other for over 20 years. They met at a school debating competition for their respective high schools, Ms Davids for St Cyprians and Ms Adams for Springfield Convent in 1993.

They then reconnected at the UCT drama school in 1996 in their English tutorial class and worked together on different projects at drama school.

Ms Adams, 40, from Lotus River, says she has enjoyed a good working chemistry with Ms Davids over the years, which translated to a good understanding when working on this play together.

“Because we both grew up in Muslim families, educated outside of a Muslim schooling system, we both have complementary ways of unpacking this idea of what it means to be a Muslim lady in Cape Town,” said Ms Adams.

Ms Davids saw Ms Adams as her “muse” when they worked on the play for the stage.

In 2002, At Her Feet made its debut at UCT and was seen by the former director of the Baxter Theatre, Mannie Manim who played an integral role in bringing it to the Baxter.

“I was fortunate to be there at the time at the arena. Nadia’s work spoke to Cape Town there and now, she is a wonderful writer. Quanita is full of energy and she lights up the room,” said Mr Manim.

The play was staged at the Baxter for the first time in 2003 and in the same year Ms Davids won the Best New Director award and Ms Adams won the Best Actress Award in the Fleur du Caps theatre awards.

At Her Feet would travel the world where they performed thrice at New York University in the USA, eight times at the South Bank Centre in London and in the Netherlands they performed in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Ms Davids said that it has been well received by critics and audiences.

With the return to the Baxter, Ms Adams, in this one-woman show, will play six characters, including young adult Sarah Jacobs who is a storyteller and narrator, Aunty Karriema Jacobs who is a housewife and Ayesha who is an Afro-Urban-feminist.

“It feels like a homecoming, people are excited to see it. Since it is 16 years old, there will be young woman that will see this play for the first time; it’s a whole new generation,” said Ms Adams.

Ms Davids is delighted to have her work back at the Baxter Theatre after all these years. “We feel a huge amount of affection for this work, we love live performances, we love the relationship that is possible with an audience,” she says.

At her Feet will be at the Baxter Theatre from Thursday November 22 until Saturday December 8 at 8.15pm, with matinees at 3pm on Saturdays. There is an age restriction of 12 years. Ticket prices range from R100 to R180. Book through Webtickets or Pick * Pay stores.

For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or email sharon.ward@uct.ac.za