Poet Hope Netshivhambe explores sexuality vs religion tensions

By CityLife Arts Writer

Published poet Hope Netshivhambe will be performing a poetic theatre piece titled Things Without Names from 10 to 13 February 2022 at the South African State Theatre (SAST), where she is being mentored by the legendary poet Kgafela oa Mogogodi as part of the theatre’s Incubator Programme. Written by Netshivhambe and directed by Ipeleng Keamogetswe Mathlaku, the one hander is a poetic provocation moving through text and sound, following the life of Marubini, a young Christian woman grappling with the tensions of sexuality and religion.

Her show will launch the SAST’s 2021/22 Incubator Programme, which is profiling other seven artists this season. Funded by the Department of Arts and Culture, the programme is designed to accelerate the successful transition of semi- professional entrepreneurial artists through an array of business, technical and artistic mentorship. For the first time, the programme has added animation to the list of catered genres, which include poetry, music, visual arts, drama, children’s theatre, and dance.

Netshivhambe says the inspiration for the work comes from her experience and observation of the discomfort that arises when issues of sexuality come up. “I’ve seen at firsthand how the church resists going deeper than “just over the surface’ on this matter. There is always a lack of acknowledging the humanness of individuals whose sexuality is non-heterosexual. There is a lot of harm and hate speech directed to non-heterosexual people.”

“With this body of work, I hope to get people and groups to confront their discomfort and consider the humanness of people different from them with kindness,” pleads Netshivhambe. “These are real things that real people are facing, and this work is giving a name to these things that for so long have gone without names because of avoidance, discomfort and a fractured belief that people are broken because of a specific sexual orientation.”

Netshivhambe is an international storyteller who has shared her work in numerous South African provinces and graced the country’s most prestigious festivals. She was a grand finalist in the 2016/2017 Tshwane Speak Out Loud youth competition slam and in 2019 she braved to participate again and took 3rd place in the same competition. She believes strongly in the power of words and is convinced that the world as we know it revolves around words.

Her work has been published on digital platforms such as Poetry Portion,Odd magazine,Poetic egalitarianism anthology,Not a single story arts exhibition tabloid newspaper and the Avbob poetry competition website.

Tickets for Things Without Names can be purchased for R80 at Webtickets- available online, webtickets, and the State Theatre’s box office.

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