In 2021, amidst the restrictions caused by the pandemic, MITsp – São Paulo International Theatre Festival created MIT+, a virtual platform gathering performances, workshops, and interviews.
The site’s launch, in March of that year, brought a focus on artist Ntando Cele [ZA/CH], who had already participated in the festival in 2017 with the play «Black Off», in which she addresses and confronts rac-ist stereotypes. First, in a kind of stand-up comedy, in which she takes on her alter ego, Bianca White, a South African comedian, world traveller and philanthropist who thinks she knows everything about black people worldwide. Then, in a mix of musical and video performances, in which she unpacks stereotypes of black women and tries to figure out how the audience sees her.
MIT+ programme brought video recordings of «Black Off» and another work, «Go Go Othello». In the latter, Ntando draws a parallel with Othello the Moor of Venice, described by Shakespeare, one of the rare black protagonists in the history of theatre, who is often played by white actors. The performer traverses the history of black artists and transforms herself into various characters – Othello himself, a comedian, a rapper, and a go-go girl – to question racist stereotypes in the art world, which often sees the black body only as exotic and sexualised.
Besides the performances, the platform brought the workshop «Healing Whiteness», in which the artist proposed a collective work in an attempt to heal the traumas of a racist society; a residence conducted by Ntando, entitled «Inter Pretas»; and a conversation with the performer alongside philosopher Denise Ferreira da Silva [BR] and dancer Jaqueline Elesbão [BR].
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ntando Cele [ZA/CH] is a South African performer and actress. She studied acting at the University of Durban and holds an MA in Theatre at Dasarts-Amsterdam. In 2014, she founded, with composer and musician Simon Ho and musician and dramaturgy consultant Raphael Urweider, the Manaka Empower-ment Productions Company, based in Bern (Switzerland). The group’s work combines various languages – performance, music, text, stand-up comedy, and video – to discuss issues such as identity, prejudice and stereotyping. As an independent artist, Ntando is involved in many projects, including workshops and lectures on empowerment and healing. Her performance-concert «Black Off» premiered in 2016 at the Schlachthaus Theater Berne. In 2020, he invited black artists to discuss racial freedom in the satiri-cal lecture «Enemy of Progress» and presented «Go Go Othello», which discusses the role of black people in the arts.