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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


(Nomasonto Dlamini, Paballo Sithe, Lethabo Nong, Slindokuhle Mthethwa and Thembeni Mpungose)

Zion, a Newcastle Arts Development project, was one of the four productions featured by The Playhouse Company in its fourth Community Arts Festival (CAF) which ran in the Playhouse Loft from April 11 to 20.

As previously, the Festival featured productions from KZN communities which received performance and theatre skills training from professional arts practitioners.

Providing training in voice production (speech), artSMart editor Caroline Smart was one of the industry professionals working with this year’s community artists. Others included Edmund Mhlongo (mentor and director); Ralph Lawson (directing and acting); (voice production); Peter Gardner (agents and auditions), Juan Burgers (music and singing); Ashwin Singh (scriptwriting, contracts and copyright); Peter Court (masks and physical theatre), Dr Emma Durden (administration & artistic management), Megan Levy (stage management), and Nkanyiso Kunene and Sandile Mbili (movement and dance).

“Obviously I can’t give a full review of this production as I was involved in its development,” says Caroline Smart, “but I take my hat off to director Phelelani Mzimela for handling such a complex subject.”

When a man is wounded in his own psychological development he is not able to give his daughter the care and guidance she needs. Zion, inheriting these wounds from her father, finds her ability impaired to express herself professionally, intellectually, sexually and socially. At the age of 25, Zion is embarking on a journey to break the bitter cycle in order to rejoice in her womanhood.

As Zion, Lethabo Nong held the audience’s attention throughout with a sincere and believable performance as the damaged child growing up with a terrible secret. Impressive in voice and stature, Nomasonto Dlamini played the father with the right degree of detached guilt. Paballo Sithe was hilarious in her scene as the drunken neighbour – she also has a powerful singing voice, one to watch! Slindokuhle Mthethwa as the mother and Thembeni Mpungose offered strong support while Mxolisi Sibiya provided the musical backing on stage at the keyboard.

The other three productions in Programme 1 were Talking Spirits and Umlabalaba with Sugar Daddies featured in Programme 2. (See separate articles)