Home is where the heart is
VILLAGE STORY OF LOVE, BETRAYAL
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
In the Heart
SUPER STORY: Mncedisi Shabangu, left, in Woza Albert at the Market theatre. His latest play runs at the Windybrow theatre