THE SOUTH AFRICAN STATE THEATRE
WITH AFRICAN TREE PRODUCTIONS
BE A BETTER DOG
320 Pretorius Street
Date: 01-06 October 2019
Written By:Makhubalo Ikaneng
Directed and performed By:Seiphemo Motswiri
The South African State Theatre in association with African Tree Productions brings you a one man show titled “BE A BETTER DOG”. The show tells a tale of Dog’s life while at the same time we get to see the world we live in through the eyes of a dog. This one man play raises questions that challenge humans to self introspect. The play is an entire re-enactment of the dog’s solid life with commentary on its several social issues as it interacted with its various owners.
The play uses humour and light commentary to speak to otherwise sensitive issues of class, care and abandonment as applied and taken up by the human being in an attempt to tackle life challenges. As a dog he grapples with questions such as to what extent is he a happy animal, and to what extent is he a traumatized orphan of human caused condition? Is any of it his own making and what power did he as dog have to change the situation? These are poignant questions that are relevant to a human world that is at crossroads with questions of destructive violence, corruption, injustice, racial discrimination, lack of care to the planet in and its inhabitants in general. In life we strive to be better human beings, but what does it mean to be better? And what does it take to be better? The show was part of United Solo festival 2018 in New York where it received 5 Star review on Solo Critics’ Choice. Written by Makhubalo Ikaneng, directed and performed by Seiphemo Motswiri. Be A Better Dog opens at Sibusiso Queenana Theatre stage at State Theatre on 1 October 2019.
Tickets can be purchased via WebTickets https://www.webtickets.co.za/mobi/event.aspx?itemid=1489181694
By Kia Standard
What makes a better dog? Is it loyalty, integrity, or courage? “Be A Better Dog” chronicles the life of a lovable canine that grows up in a small town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Written by Makhubalo Ikaneng, this tale is told in the great tradition of oldfashioned storytelling. Actor Seiphemo Motswiri plays the lovable pup. Dressed in a tan tshirt, armygreen sweatpants, and white Converse sneakers, he leaps onto the stage, panting enthusiastically.
And the audience is immediately hooked. The dog’s mother Sophie gets pregnant by a police guard dog, and after she has her litter, each puppy is promptly given away to various people in the town. The dog’s first owner Timbe lives next door to the owner of the dog’s mother; however, he is never allowed to see her and barks at her through a fence. Timbe names his new puppy Danger, and ties him to a pole in the backyard. Timbe was once a high roller in Johannesburg, surrounded by wealth and women.
After losing his fortune, he bitterly returns to the town, and takes out his aggression on the dog. When Timbe wins the lottery and moves to the suburbs, he takes Danger with him. Danger is still chained to a pole, but in nicer surroundings. Timbe squanders his fortune within three months, and after his house and belongings are repossessed, the dog is taken away from him. Danger’s new owner treats him better. His name is Ron Pete and he has a scruffy beard.
He renames the dog Condo. Ron Pete reads the newspaper and complains about “the white genocide” plaguing South Africa. Ron Pete’s biggest fear is that black people will move into his neighbourhood. One day a black family moves nearby, and the shock causes Ron Pete to have a heart attack. He leaves Condo to his son Simon and daughterinlaw Linda in his will. Simon and Linda spoil Condo and shower him with love and presents.
He gets his own room, his own bowl, and more toys than he knows what to do with. However, when Simon is at work, Linda has a daily visitor named Uncle. Uncle is not fond of Condo. He’s nice when Linda is around, but mean to the dog whenever she leaves the room. A few months later, Linda finds out she is pregnant. Condo is unexpectedly removed from his plush surroundings, and Simon chains him to a pole in the backyard. The rain is intense and Condo becomes feverish.
He is taken to a vet, who gives him a shot from a sharp needle. When he wakes up he finds himself alone on the side of a busy highway. He wanders for a few days and follows a few men who are walking to work. One man complains that their employers treat them “no better than a dog.” A dog himself, Condo wonders what that statement means. The men are mine workers, and a security guard named Solomon takes a liking to Condo and adopts him.
Solomon was once a mine worker but after an injury, his managers gave him a job at the gate. A few days later there is a strike and Solomon and Condo are caught in the middle. The other employees are angry because Solomon continues to work. There is a raid on the offices and Condo tries his best to protect his owner. He promises to “be a better dog.” Seiphemo Motswiri’s acting is engaging.
He physicalizes the dog with rounded paw hands, leaps of enthusiasm, and a laughing bark. He also seamlessly transitions between each of the human characters’ vocal timbres, postures, and kinetic movements. There were times when I wanted to dance to the rhythm of the show’s South African beats and sing along with him.
To sum up his performance in one word: Joyous! “Be a Better Dog” presents social commentary not only reflecting how human beings treat their animals, but also how human beings treat each other. It teaches us to be a better friend, a better partner, and a better citizen. Just “be a better dog.”
“BE A BETTER DOG”
Performed by Seiphemo Motswiri
Nov. 16 at 7:30pm Writer: Makhubalo Ikaneng Stage Manager: Ikobeng Moatlhodi Show Image by Sello Maepa, courtesy of the production United Solo 2018 Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
Review link By Alex News
Olive Tree Theatre
Be a Better Dog was showcased from 18 to 21 August and displayed the raw, imaginative and spellbinding creativity of the sole actor, Alex Seiphemo. He exposes the deep, intricate, entrapping and confusing social challenges deriving from the lack of a life script.
This through the eyes of a dog who acts in such a way to depict a human growing through confusing signals about the good and the bad in life within the family, immediate and distant community of parents, siblings and friends.
Audiences are led through a journey of uncertain love, inconsistent family unity and support, crime, race and class conflict, poverty and affluence which all fail to clarify the essence of life in a society of the have and the have-nots, the poor and the rich, black and white, female and male all struggling for the true meaning of life.
Be a Better Dog also featured at this year’s annual, world-renowned Grahamstown Theatre Festival and may be repeated at Olive Tree Theatre later this year.
Be a Better Dog [27 November 2016]
Wits Theatre SoSolo Festival
Seiphemo Motswiri in “Be a Better Dog” at the So Solo Theatre Festval at Wits Theatre gave a truly outstanding performance, well worth seeing more than once!