Guest critic: Isabelle Tyner
Dazed New World Festival presented Nicole Botha’s new play Call Me By My Name, streamed online. This fast-paced and powerful piece of theatre definitely justifies the conversations that have been happening in the last few months; which should have been brought to justice decades before now. The piece’s strengths lie heavily in its content, which is completely necessary, but developing certain aspects could let this piece flourish even more so.
‘We need to do more, I need to do more’, is the reflection I came away with when watching this piece. The direct address and narrative carry themselves well in the context of this activist and educational performance.
Comfort, played by Botha, is a young woman aware of her place in society and is willing to speak out about it and make a change. The body of the piece is given more flare with the interception of verbatim, news clips, spoken word and music.
Joseph O’Gorman played a middle-class male who highlighted the complexities of racism and the male gaze. This character felt especially important to enhance the awareness that finding minorities’ attractive does not make you anti-racist. Fetishising and fantasying ethnicity is a dangerous and invalid explanation for being anti-racist.
His monologue and direct address justified this point well, revealing his motives against immigration and the black community, and yet charming his way to a date with Comfort. Botha hits the nail on the head with this topic and it needs to be addressed more often in creative work.
The acting was stiff at times, but I empathise that this could have been the translation from live to screen. With longer developed scenes and smoother transitions instead of blackouts, this piece could be taken a lot further, and so it should. Not only is an important message carried out in this piece, but it also stays consistent to its form and structure. As Botha’s first writing debut, this production is to be commended.