UKZN honours drama graduate Samkelo Ngcobo says it all still seems like a dream as he prepares to bring his script to life at the Durban Playhouse, and the National Art Festival in Grahamstown. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
UKZN honours drama graduate Samkelo Ngcobo says it all still seems like a dream as he prepares to bring his script to life at the Durban Playhouse, and the National Art Festival in Grahamstown. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
UKZN drama students Mfundo Msomi and Sizwe Hlophe play two brothers battling their inner demons in a play written and directed by honours drama graduate Samkelo Ngcobo. 
Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
UKZN drama students Mfundo Msomi and Sizwe Hlophe play two brothers battling their inner demons in a play written and directed by honours drama graduate Samkelo Ngcobo. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - From the dusty streets of uMbumbulu, a small town between eManzimtoti and Pietermaritzburg on the R603, to the Durban Playhouse, and then to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

This is how Samkelo Ngcobo has described the journey of bringing to life the play he wrote for his script-writing module last year as an honours drama student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The play, Wilting Lilies, is about two brothers, Langalehle and Nkosinathi Hlophe, battling with their inner demons to break away from the mis- conceptions of masculinity and suicide.

“As brothers, they fight constantly to each have their individual voice heard. At a later stage, they begin to remind themselves that they are brothers and must live their lives without each other, but hope to one day regain each other’s trust.

“But, most importantly, they become free, breaking away from the chains which society had placed around them, finally learning how to become human once again,” said Ngcobo.

He explained that after writing the script, he wanted to bring it to life and people around him advised him to apply to the Durban Playhouse.

“I applied, they saw the play and loved it. They said, ‘We are taking you to Grahamstown.’

“Right now, it all still feels like a dream, even though it also feels like I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing.”

UKZN honours drama graduate Samkelo Ngcobo says it all still seems like a dream as he prepares to bring his script to life at the Durban Playhouse, and the National Art Festival in Grahamstown. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)


The 22-year-old is working on and tweaking the play under the guidance of award-winning actress Mpume Mthombeni, who sat in on a rehearsal at UKZN, giving the young script writer and his cast some pointers during the 45-minute play.

“At first, I felt intimidated by the idea of having a mentor help with the play.

“This was after I had heard rumours that they (mentors) change your play to what they want it to be, but she didn’t do this.

“In fact, all the feedback we got from her had been things that I had wanted to work on and change about the play.”

Ngcobo described himself as being blessed to have been given an opportunity like this, especially since many of his peers dream of getting this type of exposure.

The Independent on Saturday sat in on a rehearsal with actors Sizwe Hlophe, also an honours drama student at UKZN, and Mfundo Msomi, a third-year drama student at UKZN, who both captured Mthombeni’s attention, with their raw talent breathing life into their characters.

For the two, who displayed a fluid chemistry throughout the play, which also tackles issues of depression, this production will be their first theatrical performance at the Playhouse Theatre and in Grahamstown.

Ngcobo said it was not by chance that he chose Hlophe and Msomi to depict his characters.

“Sizwe and I were in the same class and I’ve worked with him before.

“I used to see Mfundo around campus and it was his personality that drew me to him,” he said.

Wilting Lilies will be staged at the Durban Playhouse on June 21 and then Ngcobo and his cast will head off to Grahamstown to represent KZN at the National Arts Festival from June 28-July 8.