This is what Given Chauke had in mind when he penned Qina almost three years ago. The production has since grown and has become
the voice for the challenges facing contemporary youth.
Chauke, who conceptualised the production in 2015, said the State Theatre’s Incubator programme was key in giving him a chance to showcase his work. He said the name of the production, which is derived from the isiZulu word for “be strong”, came to him after he’d witnessed the struggles
of the young people around him.
“I saw the experiences of the people around me, including my own, and I realised that most young people are finding themselves in tough positions, which leads to them being depressed and some of them ultimately taking their own lives. So based on this realisation, I wanted to
use the production to say to them, be strong,” Chauke said.
Qina tells the story of a young man from an underprivileged background who goes to the city to study. After meeting and falling in love with a girl
who shares similar values, he is faced with the biggest challenge of his life that threatens to destroy not only his relationship but his future too.
It is set in a fictional town that shares many of its features with Pretoria. The production is brought to life by a 15-person strong cast, with a
six-piece band. The story is accompanied by originally composed music that’s vibrant and speaks to the heart of the production. With the cast that was a part of the production’s original run having left the production to pursue other interests, Chauke said one of his main challenges as the director, was to
ensure that he helps the performers find their collective voice.
“With this year’s cast, I had to find their voice as a new cast, and not imitate the previous cast and how they told the story. We managed to work through it, and the production is tight and ready if I have to say so myself,” he said.
Some of the themes that the production explores according to Chauke are hypergamy, the impact of patriarchy on the power relations in romantic relationships, mental health and life in tertiary institutions. Quizzed on the importance of a production like Qina to local 21st century youths, Chauke said:
“Qina is an important piece of work, especially for young people who’ve just finished high school and are entering the tertiary university stage of their lives because of its subject matter. With this production, we have worked to highlight the problems they will face in their lives, and also it’s a production that carries universal messages that will appeal to people of all ages.
“The music is fresh, the story is real, it’s original, it’s African and the production has captured, quite importantly the spirit of youth and brought it to the theatre, which is something I feel has been lacking in our local theatre space,” he said.
** Qina is now on at the South African State Theatre until June 23. Tickets are R100 from Webtickets. For more details, visit the State Theatre’s website.