Baxter’s Zabalaza festival showcases the best in theatre
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Four powerful productions are set to be showcased at the first ever “Zabalaza Season of the Best, Masambeni!”
The mini festival will take place at the Baxter Theatre from Tuesday, September 7, and will end on Saturday, September 18.
The four plays: “Heads or Tail(s)?”, “Thank you for your Service”, “Blood on the Road” and “Ganga Nyoko! Inzima Nyoko!”, emerged as the winners at the 11th annual Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival in March.
The shows tackle a wide variety of themes including identity, self-expression, memory, childhood trauma, forgotten war veterans and gender.
Mdu Kweyama, artistic director of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival, said: “The impact of lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic meant that we had to think innovatively and differently about conceptualising and planning the main festival, as well as the mini festivals.
“It was quite clear from the mini festivals that the new approach to the script development process and where industry practitioners worked closely with the writers at an early stage, helped us to reach one of our long-term goals.
“In the past, only one production was selected, and it was known as ’The Best of Zabalaza’.
“However, due to the exceptionally high standard of work on the festival held earlier this year, we are delighted to have created this brand new ’Zabalaza Season of the Best, Masembeni!’”
“Heads or Tail(s)?” delves into the life of a family torn by a secret, harboured by the mother.
Her three children are battling to find the truth. Twin sisters are desperate to know how their father died, while their adopted brother wishes to be initiated.
For this to happen, he needs to reconnect with his biological family and ancestors.
Everyone has questions that will connect them to their identity and culture, but it hinges on which side of the coin the truth lands.
In “Thank you for your Service”, a young man who followed in the footsteps of his father, has completed his service in the army and returns home to visit his family.
The play deals with the trauma that soldiers and their families go through while in service, and how little the government offers them in return for their loyalty and patriotic deeds.
“Blood on the Road” examines how for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
What happens when one suffers from the consequences of another’s reaction, when anger builds up because of the past and how easy it is to fake love when based on hidden agendas.
A young gay doctor returns to his village after his father dies. He tries to hide his sexuality from his childhood friend during their reunion.
“Ganga Nyoko! Inzima Nyoko!” shows what lengths he must go through to conceal his identity for his own safely. This moving tale exposes the pain and difficulties experienced by a community who just want to be their true selves and to be accepted.
Kweyama says hosting a festival during the pandemic has by far been the biggest challenge for him and his team.
“The Covid pandemic has certainly created many challenges for us, but we are living in strange and difficult times, and we must comply with restrictions at the time.
“The small number of audiences allowed indoors is really the biggest challenge as we are not able to recover the cost of the production with such small numbers. At the current level, for example, only 50 people are allowed and that does not make financial sense at all.
“However, we have navigated our way around all the other challenges to ensure a safe environment for artists and audience members.”
Ticket for the “Zabalaza Season of the Best, Masambeni!” are available at Webtickets and Pick n Pay for R85 for the double bill and R45 for the single shows.