She’s a product of a private all-girls school in Pretoria - St Mary’s - and says “for too long this issue has been under the radar; there’s been non-disclosure, non-dealing with the subject.”
Her debut play, "Sainthood", which has already garnered a Standard Bank Ovation Award, will be coming to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio next month.
Tiisetso says she was motivated by curiosity to begin writing the play after listening to some of the stories (many disturbing) of some of her friends - former “Saints” boys.
“Sure, some of the stories that came out of their experiences were perfectly good memories, but others were totally petrifying,” she says, adding that part of the problem with dealing with school issues is that it’s not always easy to discuss your concerns with parents at the time.
“I was trying to make this for my peers, by peers. There has long been a vow of silence, and it seems at boys’ schools it is worse - much worse than what we were experiencing as girls. There is a dichotomy.”
"Sainthood" tracks five matric boys in a fictional private school.
Tiisetso’s narrative is based on stories she gleaned from books, newspaper articles and interviews with “Saints” boys on issues from sexuality to racism.
Tiisetso says, “Adolescence is such an important developmental stage in one’s life and we spend most of it at school and we brush it off as something fleeting, when it can be so defining to one’s early adult character.”
Tsiitetsi gathered the all-male cast from recent UCT graduates, namely Adam Lennox, Tevin Musara, Cullum McCormack, Mphumzi Nontshinga and Simphiwe Shabalala.
The play is minimalist in execution, with the bare elements on stage, a clothes rack and a bench. “That’s so that we can focus on the issue at hand.”
The experience uses elements of physical theatre and chorus to put forward its strong message.
Tiisetso creates StGabriel’s, an elite private school that prides itself on “moulding men of stature”. The school goes above and beyond to make sure their students have the best teachers, coaches and equipment. Those who try to challenge the system are dealt with in accordance with the traditions and rules of the school.
Tiisetso graduated with a BA from Rhodes University and a BA (Honours) from UCT. She says her university education has taught her to “push the boundaries”.
She says the run of her show at the Baxter is “just the beginning”.
“I want to get the play out there and to take it to schools so that students and staff can experience it. To raise eyebrows and really get this work off the ground. By taking it to a string of schools I can create a dialogue that will almost be like a family meeting - sort of like getting everyone together to chat in the same room.”
* Sainthood opens at the Baxter Golden Arrow on February 8 and runs until February 27. Booking open at Webtickets at 086 111 0005 or www.webtickets.co.za