Durban - With a background in performing music and having spent nine years teaching music, Bukelwa Cakata wanted to do something more rewarding.
At about the same time she met a friend, Ndileka Santi, who had been working with disabled people, and they discussed the possibility of realising Cakata’s dream of creating and promoting a performance group for disabled youth.
“I had no experience with disabled people, but soon discovered that working with young people is the same, be they disabled or not,” Cakata said.
They “fused expertise”, as Cakata puts it, and the result was the formation of African Sinakho Arts, which started out as a music group comprising 19 artists and now features more than 200 artists, including some able-bodied performers.
Cakata has long been excited about the group, of which she is director, and is now even more stoked that her first large-scale theatrical production, In Blood, will be running from Thursday until November 13 at Durban’s Playhouse.
The show runs for two hours, including interval.
It is described as a vibrant, heartwarming musical drama.
African Sinakho Arts is presenting it in association with the Playhouse Company, with support from the National Department of Arts and Culture, Department of Rural Development and KZN Office of the Premier.
“The production seeks to entertain audiences with a unique blend of original songs, popular traditional wedding songs, drama, contemporary dance, poetry and much more,” says Cakata.
She adds: “In Blood is genuine musical theatre themed around the central concept of human blood, the source of life and sustenance that keeps us all functioning from day to day, that essential substance that is common to us all.
“This serves as a unifying thread that underlines a very real sense of commonality between the performers and their audience.”
Cakata wrote and directed the production, which she says was inspired by an observation that, “regardless of our differences and the hardship of fusing people with different backgrounds and different disabilities, at the end of the day we are all one”.
She adds: “Symbolically, all of us bleed red blood so that is why, regardless of the fact that others might take two seconds to learn a line or some a week, we are all equally gifted, just in very different ways.”
Working with her enthusiastic cast has been the most rewarding experience of her life.
“It has taught me patience and, most importantly, to give and receive unconditional love.
“I would advise everyone I know to come and experience this, as In Blood is more than just entertainment.
“My cast is a powerful testimony to the fact that there is no struggle that cannot be overcome.”
Cakata is putting feelers out to take the show abroad, and is also considering the group staging a production in Cape Town next year.
Conceptualised and co-produced by Santi, In Blood is a showcase for the wide-ranging talent and commitment of a cast of 80 performers with various disabilities, sharing the limelight with able-bodied dancers.
Celebrating Disability Month, In Blood’s Durban season marks a continuation of a national tour launched at the State Theatre in Gauteng last November.
The production was presented at Mpumalanga Mbombela Civic Theatre in April, and at the Port Elizabeth Opera House in August.
Tickets for In Blood are priced from R80 to R120 (R40 for group bookings). Booking is at Computicket at 083 915 8000 or at 031 369 9549 (office hours).
Shows are at 6.30pm on Thursday, 2pm on Friday, 7pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. Other shows are at 7pm on November 15, 2pm on November 16, 7pm on November 17 and 2pm on November 18. - The Mercury