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Tuesday, June 21, 2016


(Appearing in “Boy Ntulikazi” are Thobani Nzuza & Nhlanhla Zondi)

The Playhouse Company will be supporting various theatre practitioners to help them stage their work at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from June 30 to July 10. The eight productions receiving support will all be staged on the National Lottery Fringe at the Festival.

“We at The Playhouse Company strongly believe in supporting artists and assisting them to showcase and develop their work in a professional context,” said The Playhouse Company CEO and Artistic Director, Ms Linda Bukhosini. “This is why we are supporting a number of artists to take their work to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year, a golden opportunity to showcase their work to a national and international audience. Before they leave for the Festival, we are also giving them the invaluable opportunity of using the Playhouse as a platform to test out their works on local audiences.”

Aspire Arts, an exciting new Durban-based theatre organisation, is being supported for three productions: Denuded Thoughts, Boy Ntulikazi and Asazi.

Denuded Thoughts is a new, daring and energetic play that tackles the problems faced by people with mental problems. Written by Samantha Sameinstein Tobela and Wanda Zuma, this fun, quirky and lively production focuses on a psychiatrist who is waiting for patients to book consultations at his small, private practice.  As it becomes apparent to him that potential patients are not going to come, he starts talking to the audience. As the conversation with the audience continues, he starts interacting with imaginary characters who enter his office. These include a sexually-excited priest, a suicidal and jittery drag queen, and a prisoner who holdsthe psychiatrist hostage in his own rooms. All these characters are as engaging as they are highly comical.

The second production is Boy Ntulikazi, a one-hander written and performed by Thobane Nzuza and tells the story of a young man kept in a mental hospital. As he sits on his hospital bed, he tells the audience of how he went looking for his father and how finding him changed him forever. The production did exceptionally well at the UHURU festival in Wushwini, and took audiences on an exciting journey of emotions and intrigue. Nzuza is a formidable stage performer with a powerful stage presence. His finely-crafted physical performance is accompanied by live music played by musical maestro, Nhlanhla Zondi.

Asazi, a new piece of experimental theatre by the young writer, Mnqobi Msimamgu, sees Msimamgu play an old man travelling through the desert with his grandson, played by Anele Nene. The old man has left the so-called civilized world that he views as corrupt. The production showcases the prowess of the performers who play these two characters separated by two generation gaps. They use voice and body to defy their real ages in creating a parable about not forgetting how insightful old people are. This piece is suitable for schools and young audiences. 

Umsindo Theatre Productions will present 10 Days in a Shebeen, a play written and directed by twin brothers Musawenkosi Shabalala and Bongumusa Shabalala, and starring Kwenza Ngcobo, Buhle Nkomo, Xolani Simelane and Nomusa Mzobo. Set in a shebeen somewhere in Umlazi township, a shebeen queen narrates the story which revolves around a young boy who, with his friends, plans to rob his father, the father who left him, the father who never did anything for their family, the rich father. They succeed in breaking into his safe, but end up killing him. In a shebeen they are scared, fear rules them, they drown themselves in alcohol, spending this blood money. Told through powerful monologue, with images playing a pivotal role, the story sees the culprits turning on each other because of conflict and greed.

The musical Maluju Zulu will be presented by Isikhwili Creative Productions. An Afro-centric tale of love, war and reconciliation, this celebration of Zulu culture focuses on faction war (impiyombango) and tells its story through music, acting, poetry and powerful Zulu dances. The word Maluju is usually said when an opponent wants a ceasefire. Maluju Zulu is written and directed by Bonginkosi Shangase.

Eager Artists Productions, under the directorship of playwright and director Jerry Pooe, will present 1976 Musical, which utilises multimedia, dance, music, poetry, hip hop and monologues to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising in 1976 and to tell the story of the youth of then, and the youth of now.

Copy Dog will present Sweetie Darling, a one-man stage comedy by multiple award-winning playwright-director Clinton Marius (Lollipop Lane, The Fantastical Flea Circus, B!*ch Stole My Doek) and starring popular Durban actor, Bongani Mbatha. This romantic comedy about a young man who goes all out to prove himself sees the performer set up a picnic in the park for his sweetheart, while he recounts the ups and downs of his journey to happiness.  As he finds himself, and love, he also finds his path to spiritual growth. Mbatha made his professional debut in 2000, performing in The Playhouse Company’s New Stages production, Nomalizo by Bonginkosi Shangase. Subsequent hits include, among others, the award-winning Maluju Zulu at the Market Theatre (2003), Ngicelauxolo (2008), Kudela Owawziyo (2009), Sophiatown (2013), All Gone and Skungpoomery (2014).

The Playhouse Dance Residency/Phakama Dance Theatre will present If The World Was Listening, choreographed by Company member Sandile Mkhize. Through contemporary dance, the dancers embark on a journey of discovery in an episodic-styled piece that is based on the personal stories of the dancers, their transformations, hardships and triumphs.

Six of the productions will be presented in the Playhouse Cellar on June 24, and entrance is free. The performances are scheduled as follows: 10h00: Sweetie Darling; 11h30: Boy Ntulikazi; 12h45: Asazi; 14h30: Denuded Thoughts; 15h50: 10 Days in a Shebeen; 17h15: Maluju Zulu.