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. 

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‘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: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1475219012
For information about Eagles Wings Productions, see here: https://www.facebook.com/EAGLESWINGSPRO/?hc_ref=ARSg6T1vmhNt7mR_tIXZpJSwBm-wJcdYbmA9xRF5wxQPHzfhfFB1vnmDpb6Zrl7ooGI
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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: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1475219012
Here’s what director Tsholo Mmbi had to say about herself as an artist, and her newly formed company – Eagles Wings Productions:
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ABOUT TSHOLO

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? 
Elevation.

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:
https://www.facebook.com/EAGLESWINGSPRO/?hc_ref=ARSg6T1vmhNt7mR_tIXZpJSwBm-wJcdYbmA9xRF5wxQPHzfhfFB1vnmDpb6Zrl7ooGI

‘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.

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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: https://www.joburgpost.co.za/2017/08/04/mmu-story-needs-get/

This year Manning was also in the music video for ‘Hail’ – by Joburg band GO BAREFOOT, which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4GGljc_500

 

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. 

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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.

PETUNIA
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
goodbye.
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!

‘Out of Joint’ – review by Star Tlali

STAR TLALI

On Thursday night, the 17th of August 2017, “Out of Joint” opened at The Joburg Theatre (Fringe Theatre) with almost a full house of audience members in the auditorium. The show began in darkness, and we start to hear the voices of the performers on stage asking a variety of questions of: “if I sting you…will you die?/ if I kiss you…will you smile?” as the different spotlights revealed the six  performers on stage.  We start on a journey which explored “the social orders that are bursting out of joint”; as mentioned in the beginning of the show, “Out of Joint” is a Physical Theatre piece that focused on the exploration of the issues of ‘power and powerlessness’. With the cast of two females and four males, we see the power struggles of the individual and the social body throughout the work. Choreographed by the celebrated South African dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, scriptwriter and founder of Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT), Gregory Maqoma, alongside the Austrian born dancer, choreographer, artistic director, festival curator and founder of steptext dance project in Schwankhalle Bremen, Helge Letonja; you could see the combination of the cross-cultures/training background of the two choreographers in this work.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this work was the precision and the unison during the ensemble choreography. I enjoyed how much the group phrases reminded me of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreographically technique of breaking phrases down into and out of the original phrase, which always creates an interesting dynamic rhythmically & visually to the work.  Each dancer got a chance to show off their skills during their solos, and each solo had a different quality to it, which showed the dancers in their most powerful &  yet vulnerable form as they would somehow get interrupted or consumed by the other bodies in the space.  There was a merge of different styles of dance within the piece, such as hip-hop influences of ‘krump & tutting’, contemporary dance and even a touch of African dance, which added different textures to the work. I really enjoyed the different shapes created by the bodies in the space and the use of space was also as interesting, where the back of the stage was used, creating a separate platform for the piece.

The design for the whole piece was generally very simple and minimal, with the costume choice of everyday clothes in four main colors: blue, red, black and navy green. There was a white cloth with big holes hanging at the back of the stage in which at some point glowed in the dark, was later taken down and back up towards the end of the show. My only concern regarding this set design was that it was not used to its full capacity, in the sense that; I do not think it was needed. There was only one dancer (Mariko Koh) who had a costume change (first with the wedding dress and then in her underwear). I would have loved it if she stayed in her underwear (or at least half dressed), and/or joined by the rest of the ensemble also half-dressed to represent them reclaiming their bodies from the structures of the social body which had all the power in the beginning piece. One thing that caught my attention in terms of the lighting was when there was a blackout for a while, leaving the stage empty with no action, and I personally found it unfortunate because it took me out of the world of the story for a little bit. Though in general the lights were simple and created different shapes around the stage which added different dynamics to the bodies in the space.

Out of Joint” in general was a very abstract piece, because at times it seemed like there were many elements to it for the audience to register at one go, which somewhat alienated the audience at some points. I feel like the work was not for audience members who were not used to physical theatre works; which is the general feeling I got from some audience members after the show. Though for those who enjoy physical theatre, will be able to enjoy the skill of dance presented by the performers as well as find different interpretations to the themes within the work.  With only a four day run at the Fringe Theatre, “Out of Joint” ended on the 20th of August, at 14h00. Those who were able to catch it will walk out experiencing a European-South African collaboration between the choreographers and the performers, exploring issues that are very relevant today in the world as a whole.

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ANKOBIA – A review by Malebogo ‘Lucky’ Mqoboli

A short review of Ankobia by Malebogo ‘Lucky’ Mqoboli

Ankobia visibly employs various political satire conventions and borrows from Afrofuturism aesthetics. As such, it is present in the future. Ankobia privileges the African mode of thought, values, and morals as proposed and detailed by Afrocentric and Afrofutirstic visual and audio creatives and theoreticians alike (African intelligentsia class).

Ankobia boldly exposes the illusion and the promises manufactured by the dominant religion discourse and how it purports the notion of freedom. The play successfully tackles the meta-narrative (i.e. the importance of land) theme that continues to reside in the imagination of post-apartheid South African black youth.Through its theatrics, we are reminded that Africans have been deeply connected to the land. And we must not shy away from that. Land means dignity to Africans.

Additionally, Ankobia confronts the liberal sensibilities using allegory and African idioms and proverbs (in this case SeTswana cultural codes) as extended pictorial and linguistic metaphors to express the notion of freedom and individual experiences of black people after the performed injustices of slavery and colonialism upon the African continent.

Throughout the play, Ankobia visits the prevailing tensions between African Traditional Religion and Christianity. We are challenged to interrogate our Bantu Afrikan Spirituality as the solution to our modern day philosophical, ideological and ontological crisis. Therefore, there is an implied suggestion that, black Africans must return to the source and champion their consciousness and reach for a higher self. I’d say it presents us with some answers and clues.

Pula!

Ase!

 

‘Ankobia’ premiered at Rhodes Theatre for NAF 2017, and will be on at the Market Theatre until the 13th August 2017. To book tickets visit: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1472721880

Show information:

Co-writers: Monageng Vice Motshabi & Omphile Molusi
Director: Monageng Vice Motshabi

Performers:
Katlego Letsholonyana
Alfred Motlhapi
Billy Langa
Lillian Tshabalala
Momo Matsunyane
Omphile Molusi

THE MOVEMENT RSA would like to thank Lucky for his contribution towards One Person’s Opinion!

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La Boheme

By Nyakallo Motloung

Although I am a big theatre goer, I am a novice with regards to opera and that is why I was excited when I was invited to the opening night of La Boheme at the Joburg Theatre. La Boheme is an age-old but timeless love and loss story between a young couple, Rodolfo and Mimi. The opera is a Gauteng Opera production directed by Marcus Desando, music by the Gauteng Opera Orchestra and conducted by Eddie Clayton. The cast consists of local performers and they really sold me there. I had never seen an opera live and to see the mainly black cast list got me even more excited and internally, I was singing Solange Knowles’ F.U.B.U. But, I digress. Additionally, being a lover of poor theatre, it is always a great experience for me to see the other side of the game, consisting of grand sets and costumes.

So I sat in my seat with great expectations, awaiting the show to start. The curtain opened and I saw a simple but lovely set. I could tell instantly that the opera had been modernised as I saw the chic apartment of Rodolfo and Macello and their modern costume. Unfortunately my heart sank a bit as I struggled to hear the male performers in the beginning and was not helped much by the confusing subtitles. Performers’ lack of projection on stage always makes me feel as though I am looking from the outside on an inside joke, which is very isolating. But I was not deterred, I sat on the edge of my seat and adjusted my concentration from 100 to 110. However, I was instantly taken by Marcello (Solly Motaung) whose voice and physicality was a pleasure to watch throughout the show. His charm went beyond his character. Motaung’s presence on stage and ability to engage the audience was really satisfying to watch. A trait which I was expecting more from Rodolfo (Phenye Modiane) who was the leading man and protagonist of the show. He truly has a beautiful voice and his interactions with Mimi really warmed my heart. However, there is a gentleness in Rodolfo that I feel Modiane played too far and as a result, made him shrink on stage. His actions were too small and there was a lack of commitment in them that made me want to listen to rather than watch him.

However, I was really blown away by Mimi (Khayakazi Madlala). What a star. Her voice really gave me a visceral reaction. I could not hold back from shouting “YAAS GIRL” when she hit those high notes and I would like to apologise to the two ladies who sat beside me. But also, #SorryNotSorry. We had been told that Madlala is a second year student at Gauteng Opera it is such a pleasure to see a new talent who I hope will go very far. Not only was I taken by her voice but also by how well her physicality connected to her voice. The same can be said for the gorgeous Musetta (Litho Nqai). My goodness! I just loved her vocal range and the way she took control of the stage. It was not only in the writing but also in the body of Nqai. As I stated, I am but an eager novice in the world of opera but I am a self-proclaimed expert in spotting performers enjoying themselves on stage; which was what drew me to Motaung, Madlala and Nqai.

My (very high) expectations were not met fully but overall, I enjoyed the show and I have learnt that I really need to watch more opera. Really! I would definitely recommend the show, especially to opera lovers. You have a chance to do so at the beautiful Mandela Theatre at the Joburg Theatre from the 20 – 23rd of July.

Get your tickets at https://www.joburgtheatre.com/la-boheme

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