Looking at SA history for a cause

Michael Charton will present My Father’s Coat in Kloof on May 22.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THE acclaimed My Father’s Coat, a novel storytelling entertainment by Michael Charton, offering a clever and fascinating look at South African history, is to be presented at St Agnes Church, 35 Abelia Road, Kloof, at 6pm for 6.30pm on Tuesday, May 22.

It will be fundraiser for the YES Trust (Youth, Education and Sport Trust) which fulfills dreams through education.

Tickets cost R150 each and booking is via www.webtickets.co.za

“I am involved with the trust and enormously admire the work they do to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who have potential,” says Durban theatre producer Margie Coppen, who is helping to promote the fundraiser.

“I am currently assisting a young guy with his college fees and they are assisting him with all the other support he requires, such as accommodation, transport and mentoring”,

My Father’s Coat is a new story by Michael Charton, the realisation of his decade-long ambition to make South African history more accessible to locals and visitors alike.

His idea was to condense the epic narrative of South Africa into a bite-size story which is both compelling and accurate. It was a colossal, time-consuming challenge for him, but one which has reportedly given rise to a very unique product, providing order and meaning to a notoriously complex subject.

But importantly, this is no history lecture. Instead, this is a story. A human story, told by climbing into the boots of five prominent and directly interlinked protagonists spanning 200 turbulent years: Mzilikazi, Kruger, Rhodes, Smuts and Mandela.

While historians actively try to eliminate the biases so prevalent in our story; Charton embraces them. As he introduces each of his five characters, he allows them to lure his audience under their spell by subtly endorsing their beliefs and biases.

However, with the introduction of each subsequent character, new facts are carefully leaked into the narrative, undermining previous biases and providing a new depth of understanding; until a layered and more balanced view of South Africia’s complex past is eventually revealed.

Further, and because the lives of these characters overlapped, Charton finds unique opportunities to tell the same pivotal moments in the story through more than one set of eyes; so providing a powerful reminder of heavy biases and the absurdity of historic attitudes.

 

Charton’s enthusiasm for the story of South Africa and his curiosity and passion for the peoples of this country have gradually lured him away from his corporate career.

Having qualified as a chartered accountant and spent time in a financial advisory role in the United States, Charton returned to South Africa in 2007 where, during a short career in advertising, he was awoken to the art and powerof storytelling.

In 2010, following an unorthodox project for an advertising client, Charton began telling stories. By 2015, he had developed and told a number of original, non-fiction stories, drawing inspiration from South Africa’s unique history, which he had subsequently studied through Unisa.

His passion for South Africa’s past eventually saw him resign as a financial director in 2015 to found Inherit South Africa, an enterprise aiming to reveal important, untold stories from the country’s past for entertainment and nation building.

Through financial aid and mentorship, The YES Trust creates a family, where support, comfort and hope is given to young adults.

“We believe that education is the key to empowering the youth of South Africa and we encourage them to tap the abundance of potential that lies within them. We encourage integrity, respect and compassion amongst our students,:” says a spokerman.

“Since 1997, when the trust  came into operation, the financial support from like-minded and compassionate South Africans has enabled us to provide funding for the tertiary education of a multitude of impoverished and disadvantaged students.

“Most of our students are enrolled at the University of KwaZulu-Natal or at the Durban University of Technology. In exceptional circumstances we support secondary level students at quality schools.”


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