I believe we have new voices, people have something to say. We need more dramaturge, more writing mentors. I am fortunate to have that in my writing endeavours. We need more plays to show new works. We do not need venues closing down. What we need is innovation and experimental platforms. This is why Sbonelo Mgilane and I co-founded Durban Womens Playwrights for those reasons.
I have been reading quite a few anthologies especially about South African plays. It left me thinking that—there is a new wave of contemporary writing out there—a new wave of drama schools, students— not only wanting to read classics. Yes! classics are great and absolutely necessary but now the focus should shift to which contemporary voices are there and what they writing about also something to think about at most times classics are not classifying today’s issues, like Mental health, Homosexuals, Mixed relationships, Women migration and so forth. And you often find works feel like they are outdated. The new wave of creators are hungry for current issues and topical issues.
The past two months I have been contacted by young theatre enthusiasts, wanting to read my work and I say this with such great gratitude, that I am surprised and moved by them even enquiring about my work. I was sitting in a reading room few days ago and I was surrounded by plays from Greek mythology to South African classics, and a tad potion of plays published by Junkets. This publishing house deceives all the funding by the way! I am so grateful that there is a platform like Zabalaza and junkets that work hand in hand to publishing works.
This is necessary, but I cannot help wonder, how does a student from Kwahlabisa high school and Entshonalanga primary school and Durban high school know about this play? How does a student doing drama at Kcap even get to read this plays?
There is so much that our art sector can do in making this even a possibility. I sat in that room contemplating and wondering. Then I thought what plays have I seen, that spark new voices of South Africa. This is my opinion, hey… In this post I will include my self, yes I am that girl who likes her own post. Let’s get to it.
This is in no particular order. For those who have a nag to compile plays for anthologies, this post might be for you. I am aware that a lot goes in compiling, the same happens with everything unfortunately. These are produced plays that I have seen, or played in.
Isambulo 1 by Ntando Cele
A story told in isiZulu about death and self-righteousness, a play that examines family dysfunction fuelled by religious frenzy and desperate circumstances. A cutting-edge new isiZulu two hander, Isambulo 1, which examines an estranged Mother/Son relationship. Set in 2014, in a small mixed suburb in KZN.
NewFoundLand by Neil Coppen
NewFoundLand is the latest play by Neil Coppen and focuses on the intertwining lives and dreams of two South African men Jacques: an Afrikaans anesthetist based in a Pietermartizburg community hospital and Sizwe: a choreographer and student at UKZN who has received a calling (Ukuthwasa) from his ancestors to become a Sangoma.Both men have been raised in conservative communities and are attempting to forge spaces for themselves separate from the cultural, historical and religious forces that seem to bind them to the past.When Jacques and Sizwe meet for a casual sex hook-up, what is meant to be a brief exchange turns into a profound journey into shared consciousness, and an exploration into the seemingly invisible materials that exist between religion and science, medicine and faith and memory and forgetting.
Salty Pillows By Philisiwe Twijnstra
Salty Pillows is a simple yet circuitous story of love, culture, race, death and life, a story about a black woman married to a white man who finds herself locked away in a psychiatric room declared as mentally disturbed with signs of psychosis because she is visited every night by a her dead father-in-law. As the story unfolds it is revealed that Zandile is pregnant with a dutch baby this changes every- thing between Father-in-law and Zandile.
Will the change be for good or worse?
Six Inches by Kristy Sutner
Three unlikely friends share sizzling stories dealing with love, lust and everything between the sheets. The wedding might be over, but the bridesmaids have a long night ahead of them. It’s everything you want to know and everything you never want to talk about. What would we do without Six Inches? Fears, fantasies and fetishes feature in this fun romp behind the scenes at a less than ordinary girls night. Come be a fly on the wall!
Izipopolo by Musawenkosi Shabalala, Bongumusa Shabalala and Neil Coppen
The play explores what happens when one of the brothers decides to forge an identity separate from the other, and whether or not it is possible for each to exist and function in isolation. Calling on local traditions of story-telling and physical theatre, the creators of Izipopolo weave a compelling tale of brotherhood, love, loss and duality, combining a rich range of twin mythology from across the African continent, Zulu folklore and the lived experiences of the twin performers and narrators. Izipopolo offers a fascinating glimpse into the intertwined identities of twin siblings and how society around them grapples to comprehend and make sense of this unusual phenomenon. Most of all, the play explores the unshakeable and often complex bond that exists between brothers.
Sillage by Penelope Youngleson
Sillage | /si:’ja:?/ the degree to which a perfume’s fragrance lingers in the air when worn. Sillage is the disquieting story of three generations of South African women and how their matriarchy sustains them – until they must pack up the family home.With cloying tensions heavy in the air, and lifetimes measured out in lost earrings, orphaned pen lids, and long-forgotten postcards; mother and daughter have to fit themselves into the (cardboard) boxes they’ve been avoiding their whole lives.
Tau By Thabiso T. Rammala
Tau is set in the Free State where cultural norms and traditional practices still play an important part in the community. Tau lives in a conflict of modern and traditional norms deeply rooted in African history and mythology. His father is a traditionalist and a community elder and his mother a neo-traditionalist with the ability to be swayed. Confronted by this conflict, Tau embarks on a journey of discovering his manhood, himself and his Sesotho culture.
Sleep (Less) by Aneshree Paul & Lechelle Lerm
The play portrays a lesbian who cannot seem to fall sleep showing irrational and raw truth that surface with sleep deprivation. The main themes are that of being lesbian woman in society and the fear that shapes identity and interaction in a day to day life
The Kids from Amandla Street by Lereko Mfono
In a street that carries a significant heritage, live four kids; Obi, Jimmy, Palesa and Lillian. Together they grapple with issues of identity, school, distanced parents and the desires to see the completion of the street.In their transition years of 12, playing becomes an experience they need but also feel to detach from. A neighbourhood Watchman presents a challenge that leaves them having to reach deep within to climb out of the confines placed by the society they exist in.
She said She said by Binnie Christie
What happens when you leave your new girlfriend in your house alone for the first time? Does she go and do the domestic chores thing: iron your sheets, cook and clean so that you will return overwhelmed with her pre-1950s womanly values and discipline? Does she roll around languidly on your sheets, thinking about last night? Or maybe she goes and does her own work, to put her mind off how much she misses you? But perhaps she turns manic and rifles through your stuff, with a voracious urgency to find out all your secrets and explore all your most intimate flaws. She said, She said teases the possibilities open. Be afraid. Be very afraid.