The show written and directed by veteran choreographer but debut theatre writer and director Matshidiso Ndinisa-Mokoka has a season at Soweto Theatre from June 5 to June 6, 2021 and tickets cost R100 each.
By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
As theatre director Bogosi Kenneth Bolokwe and I arrived at the SA. Memorial and Social Club in Dube, Soweto, we could hear the rhythm of drums and marimba emanating from one of the halls. I was accompanying Bolokwe to a show in rehearsal in preparation for its Soweto Theatre opening on June 5, 2021. I was not sure what to expect from the show as I had not known about its rehearsal until a day before when Bolokwe told me about it without giving further details in case he spoilt it for me until the day of the rehearsal. Bolokwe in fact is mentoring first time director and first time theatre writer Matshidiso Ndinisa-Mokoka, an artist I have personally known until now as a dancer in Umoja, a South African musical that has travelled the world and opened doors for many a youngster to the world of theatre, especially young people from the sprawling mega township of Soweto which in fact is constituted by about 50 odd townships, and Dube is among the most famous of them.
Upon entering the hall, we found Ndinisa-Mokoka seated on the director’s seat with theatre old hand, Dickson “Bra Dicks” Malele at hand to give Ndinisa-Mokoka valuable notes about how best to tell this complex story where tradition collides with modernity as women increasingly seek freedom from marginalization from men as well as the well rooted culture of patriarchy perfected over centuries and for which men are not willing to give up its privileges voluntarily.
“Many people know me as a choreographer. But this time around I am the writer and director of this play, which is essentially about successful women that we have in society, and yet we have never looked at their journeys and stories within the bigger story of their success. Today we know of such icons of the liberation struggle, for example, such as Baleka Mbete, but when have not traced their foot steps to understand the kind of struggles they had to deal with to be where they are today. Successful women have sacrificed a lot, for example leaving their children behind as they went to exile, and such children were vulnerable for example to sexual predators, often men in communities who take advantage of the fact that such children do not have their parents around,” said Ndinisa-Mokoka in an interview with CITYLIFE/ARTS after the wrapping up of the rehearsal session on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
A first time writer and first time theatre director, but an a consummate artist who has been mentored and trained by the late Jackie Semela of Soweto Dance Theatre fame, whose life was tragically cut short in the late 1990s, and artist turned government official Collen Hlatswayo, Ndinisa-Mokoka admitted that she found the responsibility of sitting on the other side of the curtain overwhelming and intimidating, but that she was enjoying every moment of it as she crafts a new path in theatre as a director and writer.
“I conceptualised the story during lockdown. After writing it I sent it to Kenneth (Gobosi Bolokwe) to have a look at it and improve where he felt it needed tweaking. But when he came back to me without changing anything, I felt confident as a new writer in theatre,” said Ndiniso.
Well Lament Songs of Imbokodo, is a fascinating foray into the lives of successful women society often looks up to today, but whose journeys to where they are often full of thorns, lament and have been difficult to ravel, and yet all we see is the success they have achieved without looking back, tracing their paths.
Let me spare you the details as you will have to witness everything on stage at Soweto Theatre on Saturday, June 5 at 7pm and Sunday , June 6 at 3pm.
Lament Songs of Imbokodo written and directed by Matshidiso Ndinisa-Mokoka is at Soweto Theatre June 5-6, 2021, Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets cost R100 each.