Sowetan

Masasa’s world is a stage

- Patience Bambalele

AFTER dumping her glamorous television industry award-winning career, actress Masasa Mbangeni has decided to rekindle her love for the stage with the powerful play The Dying Screams of the Moon.

Mbangeni, who played Thembeka Shezi-Nyathi in Scandal!, took the decision a few months ago to leave television to discover herself again.

The play is a collaborat­ion between two theatre greats – Zakes Mda and John Kani. It was written by Mda and directed by Kani and features Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Mbangeni.

It opens at the Market Theatre in Newtown on July 29. The Dying Screams of the Moon is about Lady and Missy – two women struggling to find themselves in post-apartheid South Africa. The focus is on land issues and how black people were forcefully removed to make way for whites. The play also touches on gender issues and lack of women empowermen­t.

The 26year-old Mbangeni plays Lady, a former MK soldier who comes back from exile to find the land owned by her forefather­s is now the property of Baas Tommy, Missy’s father.

“Things could have gone wrong. Forgivenes­s came at a price. That is why we now see the issues of land, education, class, racism and sexism coming out.

“They’re coming out because we just put a bandage on an uncleaned wound,” she says.

The Port Elizabeth-born actress says she found Mda’s story relevant to what is happening today because the nationa is still grappling with land issues and poverty after 20 years of democracy.

“The biggest mistake was to expect black and white people to live peacefully after everything that happened during apartheid.”

Mbangeni says working with an experience­d actor and director like Kani – who she describes as a phenomenal, walking encyclopae­dia.

“He is a genius. I remember when we started rehearsing, we spent a week trying to understand the script word by word and what each word meant.”

Mbangeni says working with Kani reminds her of her late father who loved the theatre and had watched Kani and Winston Ntshona in Sizwe Banzi is Dead.

“When the show was staged at the Market Theatre my dad told me to go and watch it. He would have been proud to see me working with his hero.”

Mbangeni, who is also reading for her masters in drama, seems to have lost faith in the media following inaccurate reports of her exit from Scandal!.

During the interview she emphasised that her departure had nothing to do with her being unhappy. She repeated that she was motivated by a desire for personal growth.

“I have had this conversati­on so many times. No one wants to believe me when I say my parting with Scandal! was amicable, not dramatic,” she says.

“I loved Scandal!. It gave me a chance to work with the best actors in the country.

“I had the best writers who wrote phenomenal and amazing stories.”

The young actress says she will forever be grateful to Scandal!’s producers for giving her a chance to launch her television career.

She landed the role of Thembeka straight after completing her degree in dramatic arts at Wits University. The role won her a South African Television and Film Award and Royalty Soapie Award.

Mbangeni says she was exhausted and had to take a break after being on the A-list for almost two years.

It was at this point that she had a lengthy discussion with the producers where she explained that she wanted to explore other avenues and grow as an artist.

“I missed theatre. I missed the intimacy you have with the audience.

“I love the fact that at some point you are afraid of the audience. [but] you know that they are not there to judge you.”

Mbangeni recently performed in Children’s Monologues, and

June 16 Celebratio­n in Song, both at the Market Theatre.

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 ?? PHOTO: JOHNNY ONVERWACHT ?? FIRST LOVE: Masasa Mangeni in ‘The Dying Screams of the Moon’ which opens at the Market Theatre in Newtown on July 29
PHOTO: JOHNNY ONVERWACHT FIRST LOVE: Masasa Mangeni in ‘The Dying Screams of the Moon’ which opens at the Market Theatre in Newtown on July 29

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