Ndito, The Masai Girl [FringeTIX]
Sheela Langeberg @ State Library of South Australia
2:00pm, Tue 3 Mar 2009
After scurrying via an optimal route to the State Library, I completely missed the big orange “Fringe Venue” sign that would’ve pointed me in the right direction; thus, when I eventually swallowed my pride, asked for directional assistance, and scurried to the correct part of the Library, I walked in just as Sheela Langeberg started telling the tale of Ndito, the Masai Girl, in front of a crowd of a dozen adults and maybe twice as many children.
Ndito’s story is a simple one, with several short acts: initially, Ndito’s childhood sickness, and the process used to heal her; then as she ages, her journey to her local forest (encountering three adversaries along the way).
But the story is not the memorable part of this performance – it’s all about Langeberg’s delivery. With bold movements, a sly sense of humour, and wonderful vocal control, she manages to manipulate the audience with ease; we were all soon singing, clapping, miming along in unison, and not once did the motions feel contrived – better yet, the kids (early tweens, I reckon) actually appeared to be having fun (rather than the eye-rolling reluctance I was expecting to see).
After the show, there was a short Q&A session, aimed at the kids (“are those spears real?” – no; “how long have you been in Australia?” – 20 years), but one of the chaps from UNLV (who I’d seen at a bunch of shows) managed to ask the question that had been playing on my mind: “why did you only play three times, and only on one day?” Her answer – that three was enough, and that it took a lot out of her – seemed both frank and honest.