The Color Purple SA: A Display of Black Girl Magic


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The Color Purple SA: A Display of Black Girl Magic

I was brought to tears by this musical, not only because of the magic I was seeing on stage but also because of how much I, as an actress, wanted to be on that stage. This was due to the immense level of quality presented to us at the Mandela Theatre. This is saying a lot since I have never been the biggest fan of musicals. Although this may be due to the fact that I am bitter about not being born with the ability to sing. Nonetheless, a stunning production is a stunning production, regardless of being a fan of the medium. And that is exactly what The Color Purple SA is…stunning!

The Color Purple is a novel written by black American author, Alice Walker in 1982 and was later adapted as a film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film cast included an astonishing cast with names such as Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover so expectations for this South African musical were sky high. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed in the slightest.
The Color Purple SA, staged at the Joburg Theatre, is directed by Janice Honeyman, famous for her immense contribution to musicals and pantomime in South Africa especially. The production, set in Georgia, USA in the early 1900s, tells the heart-breaking but inspiring tale of Celie, a black women who is the face of domestic violence, sexual abuse and a broken spirit. Celie, played by Didintle Khunou (a dear friend of mine) portrayed the role with such grace and truth. Her character journey was a delight to watch; from a timid and submissive southern wife to a confident, independent woman ‘who don’t need no man’. It is truly inspiring for a black woman like myself to see Celie glowing and growing in all her self-love and to see her singing ‘I’m Here’, the song where she finally sees her true self and leaves her abusive and degrading husband, Mister (Aubrey Poo). Celie finally realises she is worthy and enough of all the good things in the world. Additionally, her relationships and bonds with her sister Nettie (Sebe Leotlela), Shug Avery (Lerato Mvelase) and Sophia (Neo Motaung) who are all portrayals of proud and commanding black women are a reflection of the love and hope that comes with black sisterhood.

Finally, I want to talk about the three town gossips, Darlene (Lelo Ramasimong), Doris (Dolly Louw) and Jarene (Ayanada Sibisi). I absolutely loved these women. They served as the chorus and commentary of the show. The trio performed in snippets but completely blew me away or rather, snatched my wig, honey! Their harmonising was so beautiful and the unity between their voices and the incredible live band was, for lack of better wording, music to my ears. The ladies were witty and exciting and left me wanting more and more. If I had only three words to describe them, they would be #BlackGirlMagic.

This production goes down as one of my favourite musicals, along with Kakadu, which was also staged at the Joburg Theatre last year.  I would give it 4.5 starts out of 5 stars, with my only criticism being the lack of consistency of the accents with regards to some characters. Nonetheless, The Color Purple SA is truly a force to be reckoned with and deserves all the glory it has been receiving and will continue to receive.

It will be staged at the Joburg Theatre until Sunday 4 March 2018. If you miss it, you will truly be missing out!

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Part 2: Directing ‘GOMORA’

This is Part 2 of an interview with Tsholofelo Mmbi – the director of ‘Gomora’ – which is being staged at The Plat4orm in Newtown on the 26th, 27th and 28th November 2018. See show details at the end.

Describe 'Gomora' in 5 words:
The repercussions of history today.

What is 'Gomora' all about?
'Gomora' questions a lot of possibilities that are out there...
If history could be written from the eyes of nature, would it be written
the same as human perspective? But history is written by mankind which 
brings a question about the genuineness of the reality observed, or the 
truth might be subjective to ones perspective. That is the question being
interrogated through heightened physicality and visuals as a style of 
delivery, while the words of the play paint the characters and events 
through poetry and prose... 
The play is set in an ancient cave which has been turned into a historical
museum for tourist attraction, but the Tour guide of the place is a 
descendant of the rightful owners of the land. The play seeks for a 
solution about retrieving colonial impact affecting current generations.

What does the title ‘Gomora’ refer to?
According to biblical meaning Gomorrah means to be deep or deep water, 
but within the scripture Sodom and Gomorrah was known as the city of 
pain. In our 'Gomora' we refer to the pain we felt and never got a 
chance to mourn as we needed to adapt to the new systems, but our pain 
is still alive buried within our souls.

What makes the themes relevant to current audiences?
Personally, looking at where I come from, our young generation are mostly
affected by many shifts that took place in the past times,
for we do not know who we are and our identity plays a major role 
in everything we do, the current youth recognizes that wealth depends 
on the position of the land, and without ownership of land, you do not 
have the voice to change your destiny

What are you most excited about for this run at The Plat4orm?
I just can’t wait for the opening - to get more people to see my work
as a director, and to hear the feedback that will grow the piece more.

What is your favourite line from the play?
“We have stripped away all we knew, for it was no longer good enough 
for us”

Which artists and productions helped inspire/influence Gomora?
Definitely 'Milk and Honey' (directed by James Ngcobo) from our school 
production, simply because we devised the piece from our personal 
findings, and since then I have not rested away from the theme of 
land redistribution and identity.
Artists who influenced me are Vice Monageng and Worona Seane, 
for their work speaks volumes and gives me courage to tell more stories 
that can spark debate among people

What has been your biggest challenge as a director?
As an independent company, financial support is not available for a new 
show, so multitasking in order to remain in the budget capacity can be 
challenging and time never seems to be enough. 
So in short, its the minimum budget challenges because of the ripple 
effect towards other components of the project, and balancing being a
director and project manager. 

Are there any plans for 'Gomora' moving forward?
A few festivals and independent theatre spaces.

If you could tour the show to any other country, where would you go?
African countries first.

What has it been like working with Mli, Prince + Dintshitile?
It has been an overwhelmingly great experience. Everyday is a new day 
for new lessons with them, they offer themselves over to the process 
and there are no personal agendas but simply serving the work at hand.
As a director I feel like a child again, where I have a of toys to play 
with as Mlindeli Zondi keeps offering choices to play with and my work 
becomes so easy on the floor... When it comes to music, “aah“, I just 
get more and more lost into the world where I intended to go.
Prince Shapiro knows which instruments to play whenever I describe 
the mood of the scene, and sometimes I don’t even have to describe 
anything - he just knows and plays the instrument... And finally,
the cherry on top - Dintshitile Mashile, our vocalist. She is a blessing
from the heavens who completes the feel and the picture of the world 
through her voice.
It has been so wonderful to work with all of them because they are free 
spirits willing to serve the arts, are wonderful human beings, and there
is no day where it's dull with them. 

latest poster
‘Gomora’ is written and performed by Mlindeli Zondi (member of The Movement RSA), and features live music from Prince Shapiro with vocals by Dintshile Mashie. The show premiered at Joburg Theatre earlier this year, and will be showing at the Plat4orm in Newtown later in November.
See ticket info here:
For information about Eagles Wings Productions, see here:

Part 1: Artist Interview – TSHOLOFELO MMBI

Recently Binnie Christie from The Movement RSA interviewed Tsholofelo Mmbi, a Market Lab graduate who is currently directing a new-ish show called ‘Gomora’.
‘Gomora’ is written and performed by Mlindeli Zondi (also a member of The Movement RSA), and features live music from Prince Shapiro with vocals by Dintshile Mashile. The show premiered at Joburg Theatre earlier this year, and will be showing at the Plat4orm in Newtown later in November… More info to follow soon!
See ticket info here:
Here’s what director Tsholo Mmbi had to say about herself as an artist, and her newly formed company – Eagles Wings Productions:


Do you have any nicknames? 
Lol yes I do. The name is Mashudu but I don’t prefer anyone 
besides my guardian mother to call me by it.

If you had a stage-name, what would it be?
I  would definitely go by Hope

Tell us something about yourself not many other people know.
I’m very talkative

What is your human-power? 
Good listener and approachable

What would your super-power be? 

If you could spend the day with any theatre-maker (dead or alive), 
who would it be?
Warona Seane.

What have been your highlights from the last year?
Great feedback from performing at Hilton Festival with 'Making Mandela'.

As a director, name one of your ‘theatre values’.
Creating original work

Reflect on a moment you felt theatre might be your 'thing'. 
I remember back then in primary school when I was in grade 7,
I was selected to participate in debate. I had prepared my points 
in order but on the day before presentation, I asked my teacher 
if I could do some performance with the grade 3 learners to entertain 
the audience. She just said 'go for it' with a bit of disappointment 
on her face that I was not participating in debate anymore.
There I knew this is my calling, for I had a great vision and I had 
to be the one to direct it. I then called in the grade 3 learners 
in my class and taught them some dance moves as they also taught me 
some that they knew, and I put together a complete performance 
for that day... From the way they entered to the end as they bowed,
ohh I got a feeling of satisfaction.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Always be original and know that it is your duty to heal the nation 
by healing yourself first on stage.

If you could, what magical difference would you make in SA theatre? 
I would definitely face up to financial support problems,
by making more opportunities for the artists whose work speak volumes.

What was the last show you saw and fell in love with?
'The Devil and Billy Markham' - performed by James Kent 
and directed by Jenine Collocott.

Tell us about your company, Eagles Wings Productions.
Eagle Wings Productions is a young black company owned by myself and 
Mlindeli Zondi. It is one of the aspiring production companies dedicated
toward outstanding research of the content, and brings excellency within
the execution of the project, by producing demanded products in different 
genres of the entertainment spectrum which are educative, 
thought-provoking and authentic productions in theatre, TV + film.
The company aims to bring content that resonates with South Africans
and the global market, with universal stories enriched with authentic 
details. On the television segment we aim to produce in-demand work that
challenges the viewers and excites them, and will bring more viewership 
- including drama series, short films, kids’ educational programmes 
and game shows.
Lastly we aim to position ourselves as a leading production company 
in the all relevant platforms and genres of entertainment.

Is there a story behind the company name?
Yes, as we were reading  a book about leadership by John C Maxwell, 
he made a scenario about leadership in every person who is willing 
to get out of their comfort zone. He made an example about ducks and 
eagles, demonstrating how each creature has it own strength and weakness,
but by accepting those character traits and working with them, 
they become stronger. So we, as Eagles Wings, aim to break those 
limitation set within the industry and discover new adventures.

What will you be drinking after the show?
Honestly I have no idea. I might just drink water for the thirst 
I have been feeling for the show to finally showcase, lol.
For more information about Eagles Wings Productions, see here:

‘A Prayer For Misguided Love’ – a poem by Quinton Manning

A Prayer For Misguided Love (2013)
Quinton Manning

In the beginning, You smiled and there was light.
In the beginning, Adam smiled and I found life.
In the beginning, it was Adam and I.
Then Eve came by.
Her heart was unprotected.
So Adam offered a rib. His rib.
Eve took his rib and from then on all Adams were left with a whole.
Adam’s hole made Eve whole.
Is that why, Adam, we don’t feel whole? Adam, is that why I need you to feel whole?
Tell me Adam, do you feel whole? Or would you rather run after Eve’s armoured heart and ask her to make your hole, whole?
Once Eve says no because she likes being whole, Adam, will you return with the whole of your hole and ask me to fill you?
Did you not see it from the beginning Adam?
Adam, what’s one missing rib to a man who’s not whole?
Adam, I’d give you a rib if you asked.
Adam, I’d give you a cage if you asked.
Adam, I’d give you my heart if you asked.
Adam, all you need to do is ask.
Adam, ask.
Adam, ask and you will receive the abundance of my love.

But he does not ask.

And she leads him astray and he shouts, “YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!”
But God help them because they are both doused in darkness.

And she leads him to lie in pastures.
But those pastures have not been green since the forbidden fruit had fallen onto the ground between her thighs.
She bit into it.
He bit into it.
And their eyes were closed even further.
So she walked out of the garden with a snake where her borrowed rib once was. And he followed. He followed like a shepherd following a star. But she was no star.

And I stood and watched them.
In the garden.
And Lord, you stood next to me.
And Lord, I asked You why.
I asked You why You gave Adam’s rib to Eve and not to me.
I asked why You had allowed my heart to burn.
Because it burns Lord. It burns with a flame for Adam.

And You said, “Let it burn.
Watch as it turns from ashes to dust
and from dusk to dawn.
And when the sky lights up with your love he will see it. He will see My light through you. My love through you.
Our love for him.
He will come back.
To this garden.
To My garden.”

And You smiled Lord.
And I didn’t understand then, Lord.
And I don’t understand yet, Lord.
So help me understand now, Lord.


Quinton Manning is a young writer and performer who is currently in 4th year at Wits School of Arts. This year Manning wrote ‘MMU’ which became the official Wits Production staged at the 2017 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and Wits Theatre’s 969 Theatre Festival in Johannesburg. Here is a review of the show by Katlego Mereko:

This year Manning was also in the music video for ‘Hail’ – by Joburg band GO BAREFOOT, which you can check out here:


A subversion of Sonnet 87

Earlier this year Monologue Monday’s hosted an event where writers were invited to interpret Shakespearean Sonnets in their own, modern way. Several talented actors then performed either the traditional or new versions in the form of monologues.

One of the writers involved was the exceptionally talented Neo Sibiya, a Wits Graduate with a passion for film, theatre, writing and performance. Neo won 3rd place in the 2015 SAFm radio-play competition for her work ‘Trains of Thought’, and has recently written several films including ‘Mmangwana’ for Mzansi Magic, among many other projects and achievements.

Below you’ll find the original Sonnet 87 by Shakespeare, as well as Neo’s interpretation. 


Reaction to Sonnet 87

Neo Sibiya

Notes: Sonnet 87- Man professing love for a young man who feels is too good for him do he must say goodbye. Mine is a subversion of this.
It is for a female (38-45) who had just lost her daughter in a car accident where her boyfriend was driving. Her daughter was 18.

Haven’t they told you? You really don’t know? My baby is dead. My one and only
child is gone… Oh Zandi…
I…I… It hurts doesn’t it? I wake up
every morning and it hits me all over; I will never see Zandi
again. Every morning when I wake up for a brief second I believe I might
see my daughter again, go to her bedroom and call her name… But then it hits me. I come to my senses and realize what
Is happening; she’s gone. Maybe she was too good for me. The ladies from the church say she was an angel just borrowed to me from a brief time. How cruel of God, he should not have given her to me at all! For a mother to bury her own child…
Maybe I was
lucky to be able to go to her
funeral; I hated every second of
it but at least I got to say
When I had her I’ve never been happier but what if I only dreamt her? Was I only a good mother in my dreams? I don’t know anymore, what if she’s not in a better place? Will God give her back?


20292616_1293042167431929_137901069872051922_nThank you Neo for this entry, and happy future writing!