Fresh new playwright Caitlin Wiggill’s ‘God is a Woman’ is the opening production of this year’s Artscape New Voices Programme. Directed by Tara Notcutt, the production will run from October 5 to 12 in the Artscape Arena nightly at 7.30pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday, October 12, at 2pm.
Peter Tromp chatted with the author on her debut production.
Tell us about ‘God is a Woman’ – what it’s about, and what audiences can look forward to with the show.
‘God is a Woman’ is about acceptance. The main character, Andre, is in the process of navigating her journey as a young transgender woman. Her mother, grandmother, and best friend are coming to terms with her identity and their own. It’s all about learning to be with yourself and the people you love. The grandmother steadfastly believes in ‘Mama God’, and the women find that power within themselves. A lot of the text is about women showing up for each another. Even though it tackles big themes, it’s very gentle. The characters are individuals with their own perspectives and beliefs and everything boils down to their memories and the funny little moments they share. They’re all part of this magical legacy of womanhood. Audiences can definitely look forward to the amazing cast (Terence Makapan, Llandi Beeslaar, Susanne Beyers, and Loren Loubser) and some really tender moments. I consider the text to be very honest – the audience gets to look in on the most private parts of their lives.
What inspired you to commit finger to keyboard? Was it a series of events, perhaps? Or was it just ideas that had been cooking in your mind for some time?
Most of my ideas form as images before anything else. I had this picture of Andre wearing a wedding dress in my head for a long time before I started writing. Once the family was in my mind, the rest came very quickly. I come from a family of strong women; we stick together. So, my childhood definitely informed the way that the characters interact with one another. I think it’s incredibly important for women to be represented in the arts, and by that I mean in as many forms as possible. There isn’t one correct definition of womanhood, and that’s what makes it so beautiful.
You are opening this year’s Artscape’s Spring Drama Season. How do you feel about that honour? And what was the extent of your knowledge of the competition beforehand?
I feel incredibly honoured to have been chosen. It’s quite overwhelming – it hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but it really is amazing. I saw an advert for the competition on Facebook and applied, not expecting to hear back at all. I was never going to be a writer; that wasn’t the plan. My mom always said I was, but it wasn’t until Saartjie Botha encouraged me to write that I took it seriously and started investing time in it last year. I’m just so happy to be able to share my work with people. The casting is so special to me because I’m a big fan of all the actors. Working with Tara Notcutt is such a privilege – she is wildly talented and clever. As long as someone in the audience relates to it and feels they’ve had an experience, I’ll know that I’ve done my job.
It’s very early on in your theatre career, but would you say you have identified any specific themes that are close to your heart, crop up in your writing (consciously or unconsciously) or that flat-out inspire you to write?
Womanhood has always been a big theme for me within my personal life, and now it’s at the forefront of our social consciousness as a country. I think that my work will always deal with the expression of that. I’m also very invested in mental health, because it’s just so important (I am a very anxious person). I had a very busy childhood, and a lot of those memories crop up in my writing. I would say that a lot of my work includes biographical elements, snippets of conversation and memory.
* Tickets are only R60 and can be booked at Computicket; or via Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695.