A scene taken from the production Qina that's now on at the State Theatre. Photo: Sanmari Marais
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