IQONGA. At the Black Box Theatre, Delft Rent Office until October 17. TRACEY SAUNDERS previews
FROM the outside, the Rent Office in Delft looks like many other functional government offices, painted in standard issue paint and surrounded by security gates. Once you step past the door however you enter a world of possibility that the Rainbow Arts Organisation has created during the last few years. The organisation has been at the heart of creative development in the area and has hosted drama and slam poetry workshops and produced several theatre productions.
Recently the Uqantso scriptwriting competition culminated in the reading of five new scripts written by local playwrights. The winning script will be produced later this year, but meanwhile there is no shortage of productions, thanks to the recently launched Iqonga initiative. June 16 saw the launch of this theatre festival which will showcase no less than eight productions.
The festival will provide local residents with the opportunity of watching theatre without incurring the additional transport expenses of travelling to the city centre, and provide a platform for the abundant talent which is waiting to be discovered.
The plays come from Delft and the surrounding areas of Nyanga, Mfuleni, Belhar, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu and are performed by professional and semi-professional actors. The first production Isingqala Sendoda written by Bongani Titana, directed by Sydwell Klaas and performed by Samkelo Zihlangu began the season and ran until yesterday. The play tells the tale of a man unjustly imprisoned and his struggle for his personal freedom and that of fellow prisoners who are not guilty. Lingua Franca will take command of the stage from July 9 and there will be performances during the day to enable children on school holidays to attend. Lingua Franca have a cult following and after watching them perform it is not hard to understand why.
A powerful combination of music, song and spoken word dealing with issues running the gamut from love to death and all the spaces in between are delivered by this creative collective with skill and passion. They regularly play to sold out houses and their particular blend of social commentary and personal pain are sure to be a highlight. They will perform daily between July 9 and 12. Koleka Putuma, the collective’s resident poet won the first national Slam for Your Life at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and was crowned as South Africa’s first National Slam champion in 2014. She is one of many role models in the creative community who are inspiring local youth.
We Cry Too is created by Mangaliso Wanda and directed by Lwanda Sindaphi. The play deals with issues of masculinity and explores the vulnerability of a man on the verge of suicide. The emotional revelations about the source of his suicidal feelings are a frank exploration about men and the mistaken notion that men don’t cry. Theatre that confronts social issues has the ability to present various viewpoints to audiences in a way which encourages dialogue in a manner which many other social interventions are unable to do. We Cry Too dismantles the commonly accepted notions of what it means to be a man in a society where the currency of masculinity is often a violent one.
The eight women who perform in a dance piece, Ndilinde, created and choreographed by Aphiwe Mphaleni address their roles as migrant women in the selfsame society. The women share stories of migration and are united by the ubiquitous omasgoduke, the traditional bags packed ready for long distance travel. Their individual stories are woven together with a singular thread of pain and the ill treatment which they experience from their community. Mhlanguli George, the creator of the popular site specific Theatre in the Backyard series has written and directed The Day which opens on September 6. The script deals with challenging social conditions and the desperate lengths that an impoverished man will go to to provide for his family. George regularly interrogates the complex relationships of people facing a crisis with a canny sense for dialogue. His characters often resolve personal issues in ways which leave the audience feeling uncomfortable and left with more questions than answers. He definitely takes the maxim of “leaving them wanting more” to heart. Thando Doni, who won the award for Best Director in 2012 for his production Mhla Salamana at the Zabalaza Festival will be directing Gomora which will be performed in August.
The Prophet Must Die is a dance and physical theatre piece which deals with prophecies of life after death and the relationship between traditional culture and religion. It follows the story of Zandisile Zinko a young boy who claims to be able to communicate with the dead. The community feels threatened by him and he faces vilification by the local church.
The play was written by Sis C Makaula, is directed by Lwanda Sindaphi and will be performed by Unathi Rhorwana and Aphiwe Nyez in September. The final play in the series is Inxeba Lendoda Alihlekw devised by the cast and directed by Mthobisi and Sonwabo Mpandle. It also deals with issues of culture and tradition. At the heart of the story is a secret, the revelation of which will have dire consequences.
The festival has been made possible by funding from the National Department of Arts and Culture and the Western Cape Provincial Government. An investment in the arts can go a long way to deal with social issues and the impact of a vibrant theatrical hub in the heart of Delft should not be underestimated. One can only hope that this is the beginning of the growth of theatres in townships which have been severely neglected in recent years.
With few alternatives available to the youth in the area, the possibility of enjoying theatre as an audience member and potential performer provide options which they may otherwise not have been exposed to. If there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Iqonga, hosted by the Rainbow Arts Organisation is a shining treasure in Delft.
l Tickets: 0861 915 8000. Info: 021 955 6751, 081 737 9466, or Rainbow Arts Organisation Facebook page.