Chilahaebolae is the allegorical tale of Phokobje, the Jackal who sets out in search of his long-lost friend Mpja, the dog. He soon discovers that things are not as they once were. Now Mpja swims in the fat of Chilahaebolae’s suburban bliss. Phokobje’s sudden appearance is an unwelcome interruption and an unpleasant reminder of Mpja’s betrayal. Cracks on the edifice of their brotherhood grow wider and deeper.
What follows is a theatrical tale that taps into the Basarwa tradition of subversive storytelling. The antics of these animal proxies take the audience on a journey packed with laughter and adventure, while opening a window into a neo-colonial world.
In Chilahaebolae he works across a number of South African languages including English and Setswana and Scamto or tsotsi taal. Kgafela oa Magogodi’s experimental work in stand-up poetry, spoken-word theatre, live music and essay writing has found audiences across the country and the globe. His work has been translated into various languages including German, Dutch, French and Catalan. He has worked extensively in the theatre, both as a director and leader of spoken-word workshops that mix character development, storytelling, interpretive dance and political text. Magogodi’s approach to spoken word theatre took shape over a decade of experimental workshops where he was casting and directing Wits University Drama School students, New York University students as well as an independent poetry group based at the University of the North West.
Paul Noko plays the role of Phokobje. Noko has acted in number of productions including Grimm Tales at the Market Theatre, Story of the African Choir at the Grahamstown International Festival, Echoes which won the first community award created by the Naledi Awards and Tau which won an award at the Zwakala Festival in 2016. He is deeply committed to community theatre development and has been involved in number of theatrical projects and workshops. He is currently involved in community theatre development in Soweto and was recently nominated for a Fleur du Cap young directors award.
Opposite Noko is Sibusiso Mkhize in the role of Mpja, the dog. An accomplished performer from a young age, Mkhize has recently graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a BA (Hons) in Dramatic Arts. He has appeared in television productions such as Cooking Magic, Soul Buddies and was a cast member of the Oscar-winning film Tsotsi. He has a number of theatre productions under his belt including Meagan Wilson’s Ruined and Prince Lamla’s Thari.
The other BA Dramatic Arts students in the production include Zimkhitha Mohlabeng who plays Katse. Mohlabeng was runner up in both the nationwide Montenegro Dance Acrobatic Competition and National Acrobatics IAASA. Motho is played by Abongile Matyutyu, who has a number of performances behind him in various South African Theatres including: Exile, Road to Damascus, Apprehension, Same Difference, The Kraal, Lenong La Gauta, Selfie le Jesu, Them Too and Tormented Essence. His greatest achievements performing as a student include Thari directed by Prince Lamla, Ruined directed by Meagan Wilson and Smallanyana Skeleton directed by Kgafela oa Magogodi.
Nolitha Radebe who started her acting career in Prince Lamla’s Thari at the Market Theatre plays the character of Mokotoi; she is joined by Nakesa Ndou who plays Phiri. In her first year at Wits Ndou worked with Wits Alumni – Feeya Asmal and Kirsten Stewart on the POP Art production Creatures, where she learnt mask work and improvisation.
Young pianist Zipho Mokoena who plays the The Zookeeper and Bova brings a passion for music and the dramatic arts to his performance. Following a few months of formal piano lessons, he started teaching himself. Over and above studying for his Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts he works as a music producer. Fourth year dramatic arts student Shane Veeran playing The Circus Master is currently majoring in Directing and Writing, while triple major Joel Leonard is the Butcher. His majors are Performance, Physical Theatre and Writing. Community inspired Siphosam Kamwendo is in the role of the Fashion Designer. Drama allows her to positively impact the lives of those around her especially the youth.
“Three years ago we decided to find new and exciting ways to partner with Wits University, collaborating on productions presented by our Laboratory and their Drama Department. In the last three years we have curated a work from Wits for the mid year slot. We have also created a space for their students to come in as interns in the different departments at the Market,” says James Ngcobo Artistic Director of the Market Theatre Foundation.
“As part of the conversation that we program here, that features some of the best in our industry, Wits is always the first institution that we invite to participate in a moment where we engage each other and dissect concepts together. We aim to make sure that in the coming years we nurture this relationship,” he added.