Athena Mazarakis and Alex Halligey

Winner of a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award on the 2019 National Arts Festival Fringe, Unfathomable is an image-based work that wades, drifts, floats through the waters of unprocessed grief. It seeks out the ghostly presences of those gone and those still alive, to understand their liveliness in death, their ghostliness in life. Tracing the histories of her father and grandmother in a poetic play between materials, body and words, Alex Halligey takes audiences on a swim through lives that couldn’t be contained and those that stayed small for the fear of the size of their spirit. Unfathomable combines Athena Mazarakis’s theatre-making, choreographic and embodied devising approach, Alex Halligey’s writing and performance and Jenni-Lee Crewe’s design. The 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival provides an opportunity to reimagine the work as a series of filmed vignettes.

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  • Genre: Theatre
  • Format: Video
  • Duration: 50mins
  • Language: English
  • Ages: PG10+
  • Available From: June 29, 2020


Director: Athena Mazarakis
Performer: Alex Halligey
Work devised and re-conceptualised for film by Athena Mazarakis and Alex Halligey
Designer: Jenni-Lee Crewe
Film editor: Jessica Denyschen


Athena Mazarakis is an award-winning South African choreographer, performer and educator. From 2016 – 2019 Athena held the position of Development Manager at The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative’s trailblazing Ebhudlweni Arts Centre in rural Mpumalanga. She is currently the Managing Director of Embodiment Now, offering embodied mindfulness training to individuals and organisations, and serves as an Executive Director on the Board of The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative.

Alex Halligey is a performer and theatre-maker as well as theatre, performance and urban studies scholar. Early career performance credits include: The Boy Who Fell From the Roof and The Night Doctor, both by Juliet Jenkin; roles in the Baxter/Royal Shakespeare Company co-production of The Tempest and in The Taming of the Shrew, Maynardville. Her last work directed for the National Arts Festival was Deep Freezing, written and performed by Juliet Jenkin and Frances Slabolepszy. Recent directing projects include: Izithombe 2094, a site-specific cross-community professional play performed in inner city Johannesburg and Ngale kweNdlu, another site specific work made with Tamara Guhrs and the Market Theatre Laboratory’s Kwasha! Company. She has had Fleur du Cap nominations for Best New Director and Best Supporting Actress, Standard Bank Ovation Awards for Best Production and a Best Female Performance Award from the Dublin Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival. She has a PhD in Drama and Urban Studies through the University of Cape Town’s and a Masters degree in Performance Studies from New York University. She works as a researcher at Wits University, teaches part-time at the Market Theatre Laboratory and has an ongoing theatre making practice.

Jenni-lee Crewe is lecturer in scenography at the Centre for Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town. She was at Rhodes University for her undergraduate and honours studies and worked with the First Physical Theatre company, before obtaining her MFA in theatre design from Tulane University in New Orleans. Returning to South Africa, Jenni-lee lectured in theatre design in the School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. In her practice as a scenographer she foregrounds the potential for design to enable innovative independent theatre, where minimal resources can serve and generate transformative theatrical moments. She is a fellow of the Ampersand Foundation and a Naledi award winning theatre designer and a founding member of Flying House.”