MOWA Art Fields craft Setswana play ‘Mogatapele’

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With support from the National Lotteries Commission and ASSITEJ SA, MOWA Art Fields have made ‘Mogatapele’, a play loosely based on the 1913 Land Act.

Mogatapele by MOWA Art Fields Written by Omphile Moluso Directed by Monageng Vice Motshabi
Mogatapele by MOWA Art Fields Written by Omphile Moluso Directed by Monageng Vice Motshabi

MOWA Art Fields, with mentorship from ASSITEJ South Africa, has been funded by the National Lotteries Commission to invigorate the arts for young audiences’ scene in the North West Province. As part of this funding, MOWA Art Field was able to implement the biannual Bodibe Theatre Festival, to train children to create their own theatre pieces, and to create “Mogatapele” for young people, with performers from the four districts of the North West.

Mogatapele by MOWA Art Fields Written by Omphile Moluso Directed by Monageng Vice Motshabi.Yvette Hardie, director of ASSITEJ South Africa says of assisting MOWA Art Fields, “Assisting our members to create excellent work for our most important audiences – the children and young people of our country – is part of the mandate of ASSITEJ South Africa, and it has been a privilege to be witness and partner to the growth of MOWA Art Fields from Omphile Molusi’s involvement in the 2010 Inspiring a Generation programme of ASSITEJ SA to today’s successes which include several successful editions of the Bodibe Theatre Festival for Children, and this exciting new production. Often sound project and financial management is a hurdle for artists whose vision and drive tends to be focused on the on-stage product. ASSITEJ SA is happy to serve as a supportive partner to ensure that the project remains on track and is ultimately as successful as possible, regardless of the challenges that inevitably arise along the way.”

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Mogatapele by MOWA Art Fields Written by Omphile Moluso Directed by Monageng Vice Motshabi.With the administrative support, Molusi was able to focus his creative energy into creating this new work. He was one of the driving forces behind Bodibe Children’s Festival and has challenged himself as an artist to reach into his audiences’ in new ways, “I’ve been burning to write stories in my home language, especially for young people. This play has confirmed to me that there’s a lot of untapped value in our languages. So, now it’s my prerogative to discover more of the value/s that we have lost.”

Mogatapele by MOWA Art Fields Written by Omphile Moluso Directed by Monageng Vice MotshabiMOWA Art Fields’s play “Mogatepele,” is loosely based on the 1913 Land Act and its effect on the Bangwaketse. As part of his process, Molusi questioned what would have happened had it not been for colonisation, “How would that kind of history have shaped the perspective of the native? I found myself reading Sol Plaatjie’s “Native Life in South Africa” and experienced how the native’s spirit was ripped apart and butchered mercilessly, then thrown in to the dry lands of the reserves, and to a certain degree shaped the life of the native in present day South Africa. So, ‘Mogatapele’ became an imagination of “What if we had rebelled against the 1913 Land Act?” ‘Mogatapele’ has been produced a centenary after the publication of Sol Plaatjie’s “Native Life in South Africa”.

The story of ‘Mogatapele’ is a modern folktale about a boy who comes from a line of Bagatapele. After his father’s death, the boy is forced to follow the tradition of being a ‘mogatapele’ and protect his people and the food of the land from greedy outside forces, who want it for themselves. But the boy is afraid to follow in his father’s footsteps. He has dreams of his own, but this puts the wealth of the people in danger.

At the heart of the play, we follow the journey of a young boy who has to overcome his fear in order to protect his people, but also to reclaim his dignity.

‘Mogatapele’, a product of two years in the making, is led by a trio-tour-de-force; the director, writer and choreographer who have all previously made powerful political work which has made significant impacts in the arts industry, both locally and abroad.

Director, Monageng “Vice” Motshabi, recently credited with the satirical “Book of Rebellations”, served as dramaturge for Thabiso Rammala’s “Tau” and was nominated for Best Director at the 2016 Naledi Theatre Awards. The previous works of playwright Omphile Molusi, like “Cadre” and “Itsoseng” reflect on black people’s struggle before and after Apartheid and have both enjoyed local and international acclaim. Thabo Rapoo, choreographer for “Mogatapele” was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance in 2009 and his recent credits include a Naledi Theatre Award Nomination for Best Original Choreography for ‘Marikana The Musical’, amongst several other awards.

Mogatapele by MOWA Art Fields Written by Omphile Moluso Directed by Monageng Vice MotshabiThe music in the Mogatapele is performed live and communicates a language that words cannot speak. This play is not a traditional Broadway musical, but enthrals with its celebratory and enchanting traditional music, with epic chorus dances.

The twelve talented performers were recruited from the four districts around the North West Province in an audition process which involved nearly 500 applicants.

‘Mogatepele’ was performed at Shudintlhe Middle School, Bodibe on 14 October, and at the Mmabana Centre in Mahikeng during September. MOWA Art Fields are currently exploring producing options for 2017. For parties interested in programming this work, please contact Omphile Molusi on omphilemo@gmail.com or ASSITEJ SA on comms@assitej.org.za.

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