LOVERS: Cast members Sandile Magagula (Mhalaza) and Sinethamba Kunene (Koto) in Undwendwe Luka Koto (Kotos Bridal Party), a Zulu drama to be staged at the Courtyard Theatre.

THE DURBAN University of Technology’s Drama Department will launch its newly refurbished Courtyard Theatre with the Zulu drama Undwendwe Luka Koto (Koto’s Bridal Party).

The play, directed by Siza Mthembu, incorporates love songs and traditional Zulu dance sequences, and features a cast of 30.

We asked Mthembu to tell us more about the production: “Written by MK Xulu, the play talks about two young lovers, Koto and Mhalaza, a city boy, who are passionate about their future. They want to build a home and have lots of babies, you know, a basic dream. But things turn sour when Mathikalala, Koto’s sister, a chief maiden, is against her sister’s choice. She wants her to marry uMagqubu, a local warrior. There is conflict in the village, and war.”

Mthembu said the production would be staged in and outside the Courtyard Theatre. “So our audiences must prepare to travel around our newly revamped department. There will be real Umqombothi (traditional Zulu beer) and meat. Mdu Mtshali has choreographed the Umemulo, which is like a 21st celebration.”

Putting together a production with a cast of 30 has had it’s challenges, he said. “This year it’s a bit challenging as some students are not Zulu-speaking, so one has to assist with the language, then block the scene, then explain the symbolism or the importance of certain things, as one has to be culturally correct. However, our students never disappoint, they are always willing to learn new things. They have put on a good performance.”

Mthembu said it was important, even in this modern age, to keep theatre alive in mother tongue.

“If we don’t, we are a lost nation. And nobody tells our stories better than us.”

• Undwendwe Luka Koto will be staged from August 8 to 13, with performances daily at 7pm, at the Courtyard Theatre, Mansfield Road, Berea. Tickets are R40 for adults, R15 for students. Admission is free for the student night performance on August 11. Book through Busisiwe Mqadi at 031 373 2194, or at the door.