Home is where the heart is

VIL­LAGE STORY OF LOVE, BE­TRAYAL

Sowetan - - TIME OUT - Zoë Ma­hopo In the Heart, In the Heart Ner­vous Con­di­tions Mooi Street Moves, Vuka Machel Tshepang The Lab Home. Home Sweet

PLAY­WRIGHT Mnce­disi Sha­bangu has been bit­ten by a love bug – an in­escapable love for the vil­lage story, so deep and ar­rest­ing that once you have it you may never re­cover.

The lives of most of Africa’s people are de­fined through leav­ing and re­turn­ing home, and through mem­o­ries left be­yond re­gal moun­tains and dusty foot­paths of the for­got­ten cor­ners of our so­ci­ety.

Some of the con­ti­nents’ most heart-wrench­ing theatre nar­ra­tives have been bor­rowed from our vil­lages.

Ti­tled Sha­bangu’s lat­est pro­duc­tion, that opened at the Windy­brow Theatre last week, is no dif­fer­ent.

Sha­bangu him­self con­fesses that he has drawn all his in­spi­ra­tion from the coun­try­side.

The play is also born from his de­fi­ant per­cep­tion of a theatre dom­i­nated by ur­ban sto­ries.

“The coun­try’s theatre is now limited. Ev­ery sec­ond story is about Jo­han­nes­burg,” says Sha­bangu.

In his bat­tle against this, he even went as far as con­duct­ing the re­hearsals in KaNya­mazane vil­lage, near Nel­spruit in Mpumalanga, where he was born.

Sha­bangu says he wanted to feed on the en­ergy of the place bear­ing his fond­est child­hood mem­o­ries.

“I al­ways used to brag about my vil­lage. It looks like an is­land sur­rounded by moun­tains with so much peace and tran­quil­lity.

“I had a few rea­sons for re­hears­ing the play in my home town.

“I made a vow that I will never write sto­ries about Jo­han­nes­burg be­cause I am an out­sider.

“I be­came sick of hear­ing city sto­ries and I wanted to tell sto­ries of places where people have never been,” Sha­bangu says.

The play is set in Ntunta, a vil­lage sit­u­ated near the Swazi­land bor­der. It is a story of love, friend­ship,

I wanted to tell tales of other places

be­trayal, and com­mu­nity.

Glenda, a Swati woman who owns a shop, is caught up in a love tri­an­gle with her hus­band and her busi- ness part­ner, Makhu­leni.

Their re­la­tion­ships are rid­dled with se­crets and in­fi­delity.

Glenda’s hus­band is men­tioned in the di­a­logue but he does not ap­pear on stage.

Sha­bangu says that he wanted to bring a fo­cus to the vil­lage women.

Thus the play is an ex­per­i­ment with three women, ac­tresses Tsep­ang Mk­wame, Pertunia Maphanga and Keitumetse Mncwabe.

was an un­planned project that came about when an­other failed.

Sha­bangu had been com­mis­sioned to adapt Tsitsi Dan­garem­bga’s clas­sic novel into a play.

He wanted to work with women from dif­fer­ent coun­tries in­clud­ing Zim­babwe and Tan­za­nia.

The budget never quite added up so he had no choice but to pur­sue an­other project.

Sha­bangu ’ s theatre pro­file in­cludes di­rect­ing plays such as

and act­ing in which won him a Fleur du Cap and a KKNK gong for best ac­tor.

He has worked with re­spected di­rec­tors such as James Ng­cobo, Aubrey Sekhabi and Lara Foot.

Sha­bangu has also ap­peared in var­i­ous lo­cal tele­vi­sion shows in­clud­ing

and

In the Heart

PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO

SU­PER STORY: Mnce­disi Sha­bangu, left, in Woza Al­bert at the Mar­ket theatre. His lat­est play runs at the Windy­brow theatre

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