For the first time in its history, the 2019 Best of Zabalaza season at the Baxter will feature two productions, with Die 9de Maand and Ukuwa Kwe Nkaba selected from the annual theatre festival which took place earlier this year.
“These productions, in very different ways, present something special and powerful. The staging, the narratives and the performances in each one are commanding,” said Zabalaza Theatre Festival curator Mdu Kwyama.
“This made it difficult for the panel of judges, who decided that they were both deserving. We are very excited about the decision, especially since a wider audience [will] be able to see these works.”
Betrayal is the overarching theme in Die 9de Maand (The 9th Month), which is performed in Afrikaans with an age restriction of 16 years.
Four young men share a dark and painful secret arising from an after-party. There’s been an unspeakable act and the young men have been sworn to secrecy. But one will bow under the pressure.
Die 9de Maand is written and directed by Tyron Zoutman. It is one of three productions Zoutman wrote and directed at this year’s festival. The other two are Menswees, which won a Best Actress award, and The Vow.
“There’s been an unspeakable act and the young men have been sworn to secrecy. But one will bow under the pressure.”
Zoutman has participated in the Baxter’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival since 2016, with great success. Among his many accomplishments are directing and choreographing the award-winning Our Winds That Heal; writing, choreographing and directing Katrientjie en die Broers and Ungubani Wena; and choreographing musicals including Hair, Evita and Sarafina. He is currently a dance and drama lecturer at Northlink College.
Die 9de Maand, featuring Earl Kruger, Zinedine Manus, Jay-d Sanderson and Yanick Sweers, also clinched the Best Ensemble award.
Ukuwa Kwe Nkaba
Loosely translated, Ukuwa Kwe Nkaba means “the cutting or falling of the umbilical cord”.
Written and directed by Mthombisi Mpandle, the second production to be featured at the 2019 Best of Zabalaza Theatre Festival season has an ensemble cast of seven performers: Wendy Mrali, Siyabonga Jim, Yolanda Ntayama, Molupi Lepeli, Zanokhanyo Saliman, Kagiso Ndima and Nomakrestu Xakathugaga.
Through music, movement and drama, the plight of women who are forced to raise their children on their own is tackled. Fathers are absent or have absconded. In many cases, they are around but they refuse to take on the responsibility of parenting.
However, when these children grow up and become young adults, they understandably want to know who their fathers are and what their roots are, to complete their own lives. This powerful play calls on mothers to tell their children the truth, no matter how painful.
Ukuwa Kwe Nkaba is performed in isiXhosa with some English and there is an age restriction of 13 years.
Mpandle is a co-founder of the Kraaifontein-based Light of Life Theatre Organisation, which was born of the need to nurture raw talent in the area through creative arts.
He is a graduate of New Africa Theatre where he received the coveted Sybil Sands Trophy. He has won many awards over the years, including the Zabalaza Theatre Festival Best Director and Most Promising Production awards for Alunamda in 2016.
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