Koleka Putuma’s play spotlights church and homophobia
No Easter Sunday For Queers to be on NAF main programme
In a generally homophobic country with high hate-crime statistics like SA, the role of the Christian church in homophobia is a crucial subject to tackle, however uncomfortable.
This is what inspired Port Elizabeth-born author, poet and theatre practitioner Koleka Putuma’s play, No Easter Sunday For Queers.
The 25-year-old was named winner of the 2019 Distell National Playwright Competition at an awards ceremony in Cape Town last Wednesday. She won R25,000 and the opportunity to take her play to the National Arts Festival in Makhanda from June 27 to July 7.
Adapted from her poem of the same name in Putuma’s best-selling book Collective Amnesia, No Easter Sunday for Queers tells the tragic tale of two women – one of whom is the pastor’s daughter – who meet and fall in love in church and end up being murdered.
“People’s perception of the queer community and queer love is heavily influenced by the church and people’s religious beliefs,” said Putuma.“I submitted the play with the intention to challenge the adjudicating panel to see if they would want to challenge the audience,” she said.
When No Easter Sunday for Queers was released with other poems in Collective Amnesia in 2018, it was welcomed by some readers in that community, while raising questions from the conservative community.
“A lot of queer people resonated with the poem because a lot of them were raised in the church and have been faced with the conflict of how to integrate or separate their identity from the [Christian] lifestyle,” she said.
“The poem is based on me growing up in Belville, living a very particular life and then having to go to varsity at a certain point and discovering certain parts of myself that I was not aware of while I was at home,” she said.
Since its release, Collective Amnesia has been translated into Spanish and Danish, and was named Book of the Year by City Press in 2017.
Putuma has collaborated with other theatre makers at the National Arts Festival, but this will be her debut play. Next week, her crew will start preparations for their performance at the arts festival.