Multidisciplinary variety show Cirque Mother Africa is a heady taste of the vibrant and disparate forms of music, dance and culture the vast continent has to offer. We caught up with one of the performers, Theresa Mueta, to find out what was so unique about Cirque Mother Africa.
“We have nine different countries coming together from all over the continent,” Theresa Muteta tells us. “Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Benin, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Guinea, South Africa, you name it. And with Mother Africa we have acrobatic acts, live music, dancing – a journey through Africa for Australia.”
Originally hired for her musical talent, Muteta had to learn a variety of roles. “I’m dancing and I’m singing and I’m bringing an instrument from Zimbabwe called a mbira. I’m singing a song from my home country, from my own culture, in my mother tongue. Which makes me very proud to be holding such a position. In Mother Africa it has been quite an experience, as I came as a singer but I’ve seen such a growth in dancing and in all these act we’ve been doing.”
As for her instrument, the mbira, it is a traditional instrument with 15 metal keys and a wooden resonator. “It has a soothing sound – that’s the best way I can explain it. For someone who has their problems, you have to come listen to the instrument.”
Muteta grew up in the city of Masvingo in Zimbabwe with six siblings and started music at a young age. “We had music at primary and high school, and that’s where my passion grew. I was in the music room all the time. I took it up after my high school, and decided, this is what I will do with my life, this is my passion from now on.”
She joined the troupe in 2011 after being selected by the show founder, Winston Ruddle. “Training was something else. The very first week was the challenge for me, as once we get there everyone is concentrating and focusing on the act. We literally had 10 days to put the show together. So we would start at nine o’clock in the morning and finish at nine o’clock in the evening. But once you get there it is more that everyone is at their highest professional level. Everyone is concentrating on their act. So that whatever we are going to dish out is at the highest possible standards.”
“We are done by the time we get out in the evening. We just want to see our beds and wake up as late as possible.”
Muteta is also proud of the joy Africa has, despite all its problems. Mother Africa not only demonstrates this joy, but takes steps to help. “Each ticket there is a proportion of which that will go to Ethiopia. There is an organisation that Mother Africa works hand in hand with, and each year the funds for food and education. That’s something that Mother Africa takes care of every year.”
Cirque Mother Africa performs at Kalgoorlie’s Goldfields Art Centre on Wednesday, May 28; Perth’s Crown Theatre on Friday, May 30; and Geraldton’s Queens Park Theatre on Saturday, May 31. For tickets, head here.