Category Archives: Previous Work

Sizwe Banzi lives in a new play

JOHN Kani’s, Athol Fugard’s and Winston Ntshona’s Sizwe Banzi Is Dead is one of SA’S classic and important plays dealing with the everyday plights of the black man during apartheid.

JHB

In it Sizwe Banzi, who is jobless with an expired work permit, faces the prospect of going home to the disappointed faces of his family who expect him to be who he’s always been: the breadwinner. In a twist of events he takes on the identity of a murdered stranger who happens to have the work permit he so needs, thus considering his own identity, as Sizwe Banzi, dead.

The effects of this timeless piece have resulted in three youngsters creating a new play in response to the original. Sizwe Banzi Is Alive, directed by Eliot Moleba, with actors Simpho Mthenjwa and Msiza Mbali, who are Wits graduates, speaks to how the issues in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead have affected today’s generation.

“For every action there is a consequence. For every missing person there is a family living with the mystery of their disappearance,” goes the tag line for the new play.

Moleba believes this is a story forming one case of the many unsolved mysteries of SA’S wounded people and past. And this is a personal story. Msiza and Mthenjwa will present a number of characters who will take the audience through a heartfelt story of a young man in search of his grandfather, his name and his past.

“The new play marks the risks and bravery invested and celebrated about the original Sizwe Banzi as one of the timeless stories of our heritage. And it is in the relentless pursuit of one’s identity that this work draws an inspiration to tell a new story about my identity within the contemporary South African socio-political landscape. So this is an entirely new search of separate voice and self in a different time frame within the South African context. My re-imagination of the narrative weaves in the issues that reflect most of the truth and challenges of our current time,” says Moleba.

The story follows a grandson’s search for a distant past. Wiseman goes to New Brighton where his grandfather was last seen. What this unravels is dramatic tension and conflict that comes with meeting the right name, but the wrong face.

Talking about the creative process, Moleba says he and his cast realised that as the new generation, they were Wiseman and they were dealing with their personal narratives – which, more than feeding into the process, were the process.

“I believe it is through our stories that we remind ourselves and each other what it means to share our life experience and embrace our common humanity. Thus, as a contemporary young theatre-director in search of a ‘new voice’, I love and want to create a theatrical space that engages with social issues that are thoughtprovoking, reflective, relevant and pressing to my audience(s).

“As such, Sizwe Banzi Is Alive is an artistic offering that engages with a tone that begins to creatively shape a personal and collective voice. How am I, born into a new democratic South African society, supposed to make sense of where I come from when my personal and family history is a mystery to me?” Moleba asks.

For him and his cast the play is a confrontation of the generation gap. It’s a dialogue about the old and new generations’ relationship(s) with the past, and audiences are welcome to bring their stories too.

These youngsters’ objective is to open up a conversation among SA artists, friends, parents, grandparents and most importantly the youth. They plan to take the production to high schools and community halls and spread it far and wide.

is on at Space.com at the Joburg Theatre from June 6-10 before moving to Cape Town in July.

The article first appeared here.

For the Art: And the greater good

Megan van Wyk - Theatremaker

I love children.

And I love theatre.

And I strongly believe in the role theatre can play in the life of a young person coming to terms with the world. It can encourage play and imagination, fire up a sense of magic, build pathways for understanding human nature and countless other principles, as well as teaching important inter- and intrapersonal skills.
Most of the theatre projects aimed at young audiences I’ve been involved in have been fun and boisterous and very much in line with what people generally think of when children’s theatre is mentioned.

That said, the project I’ve fallen head-first into is very serious children’s theatre.
The play, a new work by Eliot Moleba in association with ASSITEJ ZA, is called The Orphan of Gaza and will premiere at the National School of the Arts Downstairs Theatre on the 16th of June.

Megan van Wyk & Nidaa Husain featured in Eliot Moleba play Orphan of Gaza The Orphan of Gaza

I’m deeply…

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The Man In The Green Jacket (Photos)

The Man In The Green Jacket
Oupa takes a long range ball and John makes a save!
What a spectacular dive by the number one goalkeeper!

 

Oupa takes a shot
The Man In The Green Jacket
The final monologue
The father, alone.
The face of a revolution
John dancing with the dress of his late wife
The conflict begins
Oupa seems the hidden picture of his mum
Surprised John is angry

Oupa and his ‘mum’
Oupa prays
Oupa playing soccer, showing off his skill
Oupa is dead, John receives his green jacket
Keeping the promise; watering the pot-plants
Oupa challenges John
Oupa finds John dancing, but he is unaware of him
John Ledwaba
John, alone, again.
John stands for himself
John speaks
John on his black label
John Ledwaba
Putting on the candle
John finds the key to his wife’s old pictures
John and a mid-night drink
John dancing continues
John and Oupa, world apart
John and Oupa; trying to understand your father
Proud moment: Father and son
And so the arguing grows
They celebrate their goal
The war is on
The militant Oupa
John Ledwaba

Oupa smiles
Oupa smiles

The Man In The Green Jacket

The Marikana Scholarship Fund

(click on the link to see a clip of the show)

We are using this play to promote awareness about the implications of how the Marikana massacre will affect the families left behind. But more importantly, we will collect donations that will go to the education of the children left behind.

The Fund will be collecting donations both locally and internationally to support the education of the children of those who died in the Marikana tragedy, with the hope of raising enough funds to cater for primary, secondary and tertiary education. To make donations as an individual or an organisation, please see the details below:

The bank details for deposits are:
Education Africa
First National Bank
Branch: Melville
Branch Code: 256505
Account number: 50520051851
SWIFT number: FIRNZAJJ (overseas deposits)
Reference: The Marikana Fund – surname

Education Africa can issue section 18A certificates to any South African donors which are tax deductible.

Tax incentives are also available to US (501 3C) and UK (charitable status) donors – these deposit will have to be made directly to these offices. Should you require more info, please contact Education Africa’s Operations Director, Linda Gould on the following details:

Email: Linda(at)educationafrica(dot)org

Tel: 011 685 7300
Fax: 011 783 1714

Contact Details

Dear all,

Please note that I have finally set up new email accounts (under my domain).

So from now on whenever you need to contact me, please use the details below:

For potential collaborations and general enquiries:

Email: info(at)eliotmoleba(dot)com

I look forward to interacting with you all!

Pictures: The Man In The Green Jacket (Stage reading)

These photos were taken by David Ceruti.

The reading was staged at the Wits Nunnery on the 4th of March 2013.

 

Pictures: Sizwe Banzi is Alive

My New Play

This is the man who my current play is, in part, based on. When the Marikana Massacre happened, he has the only face identified as a leader. He died among the men he led. Such a brave man, yet we know so little about him.
This is the man who my current play is, in part, based on. When the Marikana Massacre happened, he was the first face to be identified as a leader. He died among the men he led. Such a brave man, yet we know so little about him.

Who is he?

Where is he from?

Who is the man behind his face?

These are some of the questions that sparked the creation of “The Man In The Green Jacket”

A play which deals with the latest labour unrest that hit South Africa last year.

Apartheid in South Africa

In this play, my attempt was not so much to directly speak to the politics of the labour unrest, but to understand the personal politics of the face behind the man who put his life on the line to fight for what he believed in. What personally motivated this for him? I wanted to reveal the effects of the politic narrative through his life. Such bravery is something that has not been seen in South Africa since the days of apartheid. Now we are fighting a different apartheid, and I call it an economic apartheid. Beyond our colour-line politics, not much has changed in our country for ordinary black South Africans. And the labour unrest hightlighted this plight of the poor, which is why the government gunned them down. Their strike was perhaps the first act of solidarity among the working class since the strike of the 1973 where workers united in spirit and numbers to shake the moral core of our racist regime. This spirit is dead, or was, until the Marikana miners decided to end their silence and speak out against their common plight at the hands of our repressive economic apartheid.

Apartheid in South AfricaSouth Africa is perhaps yet to realize a truly meaningful political and economic transition. The miners demonstrated that just like the apartheid could not suppress the freedom of blacks forever, so is the plight of the average working class. We are heading for a revolution! It is brewing under the belly of this country and we are starting to see fumes and steams of it blow up. The façade of freedom and economic development of South Africans the government has promised is wearing off – it will be ironic that a real full revolution in this country will be against a black government. The very people who fought apartheid are now sitting at the helm of economic apartheid just so that they can enrich themselves. But no man escapes his judgment, our days are numbered.

Watch this space!

The people will rise again.

Their voice’s echo will break the shackles of economic apartheid.

Amandla!

Awethu!

(Power, to the people)

Tribute to Nelson Mandela

For the love of art! As a tribute to Nelson Mandela, I’ve agreed to be a part of artists who are going to workshop a 20-30 minutes piece of theatre in less than 36 hours. With no time for preparations I’ve to jump in with 2 actors and embark on a wonderful creative journey. These performances will be stage in one of the local township. Do join us on Wednesday to see what our artistic impulses have to offer. Let go and let art. The countdown starts now. Let the games begin…

The team:

I was given a pair of such talented individuals, especially Thando Mzembe. What a remarkable young performer with a critical and dynamic mind. His partner, I misplaced her name, was a formidable young actress in her 2nd year in UCT. They were a really nice pair of performers, and what a privilege it was to work with them.

The process:

With less than 48 hours left, I took a pen and paper and I went around The Green Backpackers where we were staying to interview people about what they thought of Nelson Mandela and what they would say to him if they met him in person. It was interesting to note the different views between South Africans’ attitude to the foreigners or tourists. Everyone from outside our borders loved Nelson Mandela unreservedly and yet very few South Africans share this ‘heroic’ icon he has become, especially black people. And their reasoning is simple; very little of their lives have changed. They still live in squalid deteriorating conditions, so the novelty of a ‘heroic’ Madiba does not seem to have done much for them. However, others, despite noting the same plight and poverty they have been plunged into, especially in Cape Town where the racial tensions of our bitter history still lurks, they continue to hold him as an icon of love, peace and integrity. These views, often opposing, provided the basis for my process.

As a visual person, I reduced these tensions to an image. A black man in his early 20s cramped into a tiny shack which is clustered with piles of newspapers, books, magazines, loose pages, etc. He is a local journalist who is waiting for a phone call from his boss to know whether he is the selected candidate to go around his community to record and write an article about what people think about Mandela and their plans for the Mandela Day. After 10pm at night, Dr. Mara introduced me to the the actors; and this image became the central working premise for our workshop. We placed the story within a contemporary South African socio-political landscape because this is the closest reference we all shared and did not have time to research possible other time frames. So we located the story in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha where the actors lived – I teased them on specific views their communities might have about Mandela. We pulled out different and interesting characters from the communities to comment on Mandela – a narrative of these mixed feelings re-surfaced again and we decided to focus on a strand of them all which seemed optimistically carry a message of hope. Even gangsters seemed to respect him, or so we could establish a few. Though others blamed him for the lack of radical transformative economic policies to develop local communities.

2 hours later it was 12pm and the actors had to go home. I gave them a homework to speak to people, ask them about their views and what they would like to say or do for Mandela Day. The next day we met again and re-worked our narrative with real testimonies of people. In a way, given the disparities in views, instead of making a decision about which side to sway the argument, I let the testimonies of the people we interviewed speak for itself. Using most of these statements, we crafted a journey of a small man in his young career who is excited about a journey to cover the most important article of their July calendar – something that is an honour both within his workplace and community as a whole. It is a prestigious effort because everyone in the community will read that specific article; it will be read by doctors, lawyers, builders, loansharks, sangomas, taxi-drivers, etc. If you can’t read, it will be read to you; all you have to do is politely ask anyone. Such an honour is accorded to this man who wants to reflect the views of everyone in the community. Through him, we meet his community and interact with the local folk.

However, after an exhausting weekend gathering information, now he faces the difficult part; pulling all the pieces together to produce an article. The opinions are so varied and he must make the hardest choice of who to include or not. What he should also say about Madiba in the article now that he is exposed to so many opposing views. The work does not answer this question, however, it puts it to the audience to decide – from the testimonies they have heard – what are their views? Nonetheless, the young man does offer his account, very close to the actor’s own opinion, that irrespective of our different views of the man, the world would be a better place if we had more people like him.

36 Hours later…

Mandisi Lovemore Mara Sindo (aka Dr) wrote:

The Game is Up, Dr is Taking Theatre into another level.. Who said creative artists can not make a piece in Two days?…Once again Theatre4Change presents Madiba Theatrical Magic… Thanks to Loyiso Damoyi, Abongile Kroza, Mhlanguli George, Elliot Moleba (JHB Director of Sizwe Bansi is Alive) and other artists whom they availed themselves to be creative enough and create 20-30minutes short plays in two days. These 5/6 short plays/shows are to be presented at Makukhanye Art Room on Wednesday at 3 – 6 pm. Late coming is not accepted and late comers will not be allowed to enter the venue. Audience will donate from R2 up to any Rand. Come and enjoy the 60 minutes with these extremely talented individuals. If anyone wants to present something, please let me know and it must not be longer than 15 minutes.

Unite Jozi and Cape
Town in Theatre.

And 46 Hours later…

We made magic! The actors gave a fantastic and spontaneous performance!

Cape Town, July 2012.