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INKWENKWE (article first published : 2004-07-24)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Drama Studies department has delivered a remarkable production to the National Arts Festival 2004.

Inkwenkwe is an ensemble piece featuring four students in a dramatic masterpiece written and directed by Mbo Mtshali.

Watch this name. Mbo Mtshali has created a poetic and incisive piece that is brave and directional. Beautifully styled in neutrals, hessian and calico the quartet, unravels a tender love story with insight, restraint and measured delivery.

Using delicate wire-and-fabric masks and bird puppets, sound, movement and lyrical text the foursome weave an African bird love story into a modern tale of forbidden love.

Jabu Shange excels as Ma Mthimkulu. One spirited scene sees her unfold a headscarf, tuck it beneath her blouse and transform into an excited mother, flush with love and scrubbing her washing. Shange is a consummate performer who brings an energetic pace to this production.

Arifani Moyo is an actor who delivers his lines clearly and with excellent enunciation. This is often a setback with actors who are performing in a second language, so it is a pleasure to see a group of youngsters, notably Moyo, taking their speech seriously.

Phumla Majola brings a serious and studied quality to the characters she plays, but I would like to have seen a braver and bolder performance from her. She is clearly talented, but seemed to be holding back more than she delivered.

James Aitchison was ill during the performance I saw, which may account for his lacklustre presentation. Despite this, he held his ground and did his best not to show how sick he was. I would like to see this production again to see Aitchison in full flight.

I enjoyed Inkwenkwe. The performers did a great job, the script is remarkable, and the set, costumes and props were enchanting. I felt proud to have studied in this University’s drama department.

Hopefully we will see more of this talented quartet, as well as many more plays by Mbo Mtshali. – Clinton Marius




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