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.