Kudu lifts curtain for emerging theatre-makers

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A new generation of playwrights and directors, hosted by the Baxter, is tackling a new government’s most pressing issues through creative stage craft.

Kudu PosterKudu, a visually striking and powerful play that brings to the stage themes of land claims and language, culture and identity, is showing at the Baxter Flipside until 10 March.

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Delft-based poet and emerging playwright, Lwanda Sindaphi’s production is part of the Baxter Theatre Centre’s new initiative, Platform for Special Talent, made possible through funding from the City of Cape Town. Kudu is the first of five works by emerging artists that will be showcased at the theatre this year. It will be followed by Nwabisa Plaatjie’s 23 Years, a Month and 7 Days from 13 March, a play depicting a young womxn student’s experience of the 2015 student protests.

Lwanda Sindaphi presents his new play Kudu in December.
Lwanda Sindaphi presented his new play Kudu in December 2016.

Kudu, written in 2015/16, is set in the Eastern Cape in 2030. The AmaXhosa nation rules the land when three Khoi descendants and their aging cow migrates to the area. Drama ensues when they come to Intaba KaNdoda, a community once ruled by the Khoi chief Ndoda. The Khoi, having heard stories of how chief Ndoda was killed in a land dispute, have come to reclaim what they believe to be theirs; they have come to take their land from the AmaXhosa.

“The play is not only about people reclaiming their land, but also about their customs, culture, languages and spirituality. Most importantly, it is about people fighting to be acknowledged as existing and not extinct and forgotten,” explains Sindaphi.

The play was created in collaboration with the original cast. The ensemble is made up of Beviol Swarts, Emmanuel Ntsamba, Livie Ncanywa, Luthando Mvandaba, Lwando Magwaca, Natasha Gana, Inge Isaacs and Zizipho Ouluba. Design is by Asiphe Lili (mentored by Craig Leo) and choreography by Jennie Reznek.

Lwanda is an actor, theatre director, published and sought-after poet and playwright and co-founder and creative director of Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement. He studied physical theatre and acting at Magnet Theatre under Mark Fleishman and Jennie Reznek; holds a performing Arts Certificate from New Africa Theatre Academy and is currently pursuing an Advanced Diploma in Theatre Making at the University of Cape Town. In 2011 he won the Drama For Life Lover + Another Poetry Slam and went to compete in the national finals. In 2014 he was named best poet in Africa by Badilisha Poetry.

He has performed in plays like The Heart of Redness, an adaptation of Zakes Mda’s novel and running with gold fish and gift wrapping the sea by Brink Scholtz.

His own work, as writer and director, include Achilles Heel, Sins of Others and Death, the Redeemer, all of which were performed at Baxter’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival, He won Best Director and Most Promising production award for Death, the Redeemer. In 2016 he directed Paired and KUDU as part of the Magnet Theatre Making Internship Programme. He has worked with Handspring Puppet Company touring both locally and internationally with War Horse and he was recently longlisted as for the Sol Plaatjie European Union Poetry Award.

Following its resounding success when it premiered at Magnet Theatre in 2016, Kudu was invited to become part of the Baxter’s Platform for Special Talent. This vital initiative emerged from a need to “bridge the gap” between opportunities for young, new theatre-makers and for well-known established ones. The aim is to develop and sustain theatre in South Africa by identifying talented theatre practitioners and providing them with a platform to improve and expose their artistic portfolio to a greater audience. These are artists are recognised as talented, but not yet well-known, who are creating excellent works and provide them with opportunities to enhance their skills through mentorship and immersion in a professional theatrical space, designed to enrich their experience and skills as they build viable careers in the performing and creative arts environments.

Book before 4 March and take advantage of the Early Bird Special of just R49 for any performance. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or email sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

Booking for Kudu is through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at www.webtickets.co.za or at selected Pick n Pay stores.

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