We asked our dear friend director David Eppel, a native of South Africa, to tell us about the time he spent with Abigail Nessen Bengson and Shaun McClain Bengson in his birth country this summer.Â Â The duo are performing Ain’t That GoodÂ News (directed by David) here on Saturday, November 7.
Abigail Nessen and her husband, Shaun Bengson and I, traveled through South Africa together, last July. They performed their show Ain’t That Good News in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. They participated in the work of a choir in Khayalitsha, and taught the students at the Market Theatre Lab in Johannesburg. For them, South Africa was a new experience, for me, a revisiting through a fresh lense. I worked with Abigail when she was a student at Williams College, and I knew then, the extent of her remarkable talent. When she asked me to work with her and her new husband, Shaun, I leapt at the chance. Together these two story-tellers are inspirational, talented, and great fun. Their stories are told without guile, with humility and with respect. They tell what they see. They tell what they hear. They tell what they feel.Â For me to listen to them telling stories about a place I know so well, was a wonderful experience. They donâ€™t intrude. They try not to judge. They are like troubadours, soaking up the landscape and making music. Their songs and stories resonate wherever they go. And their influence on the young people with whom they worked in Johannesburg, at the Market Theatre Lab was unmistakable. From Cape Town to Plett and PE; from Grahamstown and the deep, deep Karoo, through the madness of Steynsburg, to a corn-field in the Free State and boot-parties in Melville, Abigail and Shaun took it all in, and performed their work. They added these experiences to their stories from Ohio and Vermont and El Salvador and New York and Indiana and Japan and Ghana. The journey isnâ€™t over. Itâ€™s just beginning. Itâ€™s marvelous being a part of it!!