As part of the Creative Enterprise Project module, Bath Spa University third year Creative Writing student Lizzie Jackson defied all expectations by writing and producing her very own play, titled Hatch. Directed by MA Acting student Derekk Ross, this raw, heart wrenching story was open 27–28 April 2018 at Burdall’s Yard. Commissioning editor Verity reviews Hatch for milk magazine.
Hatch was a 35 minute production staring local actors Liyah Summers and Oyin Orija. In present day Hillbrow, the notoriously violent and lawless inner city district of Johannesburg South Africa, two women arrive at a ‘baby hatch’…
Only a small box in a fence, the baby hatch is a place where women place their unwanted babies. Inside, sensors will alarm and alert an orphanage to collect the baby. These children are often raised within the orphanage only to be cast out into the dangerous area of Hillbrow if they haven’t been adopted by the age of 18.
These dejected women subject their children to a lifetime of uncertainty if they choose to put them in the hatch. Yet, the stage was lifted with the spirit of these strong women who found themselves in such a devastating situation. Their characters were contrasted but complimenting: Faith, played by Liyah, had a feisty personality, was head strong and certain but underneath torn with fear for her future as well as her baby’s. Keneuwe, played by Oyin, offered a caring, softer side to the play, longing to keep her child but in a world of danger and poverty – with four children under her belt already – she was forced to accept her child’s fate in the hatch.
A true representation of the very real heartbreak many women have to go through when they leave their children in baby hatches
The audience were brought to tears by a scene in which Keneuwe sat hopelessly singing to her newborn baby. Together in the centre of a hell hole environment, their sweetness was reflected like a shining moon in the midst of a city at night, full of fights, car horns and leering men. The hatch was a beacon of hope and dreams for the audience as we imagined how these unfortunate women could keep their babies. But the true question throughout the play was: did they want to keep them? And did they even have a choice?
These questions loomed upon the two characters as the audience were swayed, rooting for one baby and then the other to stay with their mothers. As the story developed and we learnt of the mothers’ situations it felt like serendipity replaced the sorrow on stage. Fate had brought Faith and Keneuwe together: two women from different worlds with vastly contrasting opinions were, perhaps, there to help one another.
After 35 minutes of cheering for both women to be able to keep their children, we were reminded of the harsh reality that these characters faced. As the final scene played out, the audience remained silent and sombre – Hatch was a true representation of the very real heartbreak many women have to go through when they leave their children in baby hatches.
Minimalistic yet mesmerizing, Lizzie and Derekk are a true credit to the university, and to the ruthless situation that women find themselves in every year. The audience had built a real connection to the two characters, and I left wishing that the play had been longer, that we could dive deeper into the story. I wanted to see the future of these babies, the future of the poor women and how they would fair in the cruel world that was laid out in front of them.
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