In the limelight: Award winning Sive Gubangxa talks about her work with Cape Town’s Sugar-daddy theatre company

In 2015, Sive Gubangxa, received the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Most Promising Student. In 2018, she was nominated for a Naledi Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a play for The Play That Goes Wrong [directed by Alan Committie for Pieter Toerien Productions]. Gubangxa is only in her 20s and achieved all of this – with a pause for 2020- due to Covid – although she continued to work during lockdown. She has performed in four editions of V-Day productions, staged by Sugar-daddy theatre company and has loved every single edition: “There is so much power and sexiness and sadness in these pieces that is really becomes a rollercoaster to be part of it.” To mark its 10th birthday in 2020, Sugar-daddy theatre company, Cape Town is celebrating the work of three theatre makers who have been part of its journey: Sive Gubangxa, Sue Diepeveen and Melissa Heiden.

TheCapeRobyn: You participated in all the V-Days since 2016 but not V-Day in 2020 – as you were ill. You did 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019? That is four editions?

Sive Gubangxa: Exactly, four lovely editions of the work and each time if felt different and I felt like I was channelling a different part of what it means to be a woman and my very own womanhood. There is a sisterhood that is formed in that group and something special always comes out by the time we performing the pieces. There is also something about the show that the woman connect on a much deeper personal level and we really feel the words that are being spoken. Rehearsal process was the best for me as it opened new ideas and happened in different stages of my very own womanhood. From a fresh out of college student to a woman who had experienced the world both good and bad over the years that followed.

TheCapeRobyn: You graduated in 2014 from UCT with a BA in Theatre and Performance Acting. Were you still studying, when you did your first V-Day?

Sive Gubangxa: No I had already graduated. After university I was well on my way exploring the different theatres and shows and what this life as an actor in Cape Town meant. I got very busy with work once I had graduated but still all work closely associated with the university. I think V-Day gave me my own edge and showed off my talents to the rest of the theatre-going folk that just new me as the new kid on the block. That’s what doing V-Day meant to explore play and connect to a piece like no other and it is also such a personal journey that you go on when learning lines and choosing what aspect of this real person, you want to respect. That was one of the challenging things about the show, as much as it is a show, these are real woman with their stories and we have the privilege of sharing that to the audience.

TheCapeRobyn: How did you become part of V-day?

Sive Gubangxa: I got involved with V-Day because I met Marlisa [Doubell] in 2014 and she had actively been watching my career. We still speak of the first time she saw me perform Sue Pam-Grant’s Curl Up and Dye in the then Intimate Theatre, playing Miriam. She couldn’t believe how small I was and not old I was hahahahah. She mentioned how she really enjoyed the piece and the performance. Marlisa and Chris Weare were good friends and Chris being my teacher at the time, I am sure had a lot to do with Marlisa phoning me and sending me countless voice notes to please be a part of the project. Something you have to learn very quickly about Marlisa is that she does not take no for an answer. I was unable to make the proper audition. She asked me to send a voice note of the piece in an accent. I did and she told me I was made to be part of the group. That was the beginning of a very beautiful full rich and promising relationship.

TheCapeRobyn: You say that you “loved being part of every single” V-Day?

Sive Gubangxa: I do love being part of every single V-Day because for me it is never the same. The women that perform the pieces are never the same, each performance is never the same. There is so much power and sexiness and sadness in these pieces that is really becomes a rollercoaster to be part of it. Then, if you partner that with what a woman goes through in South Africa every day, daily then you have to perform. This piece has a heartbeat, it vibrates through every fibre of thy being as you perform read and just listen to it. It is powerful. I remember many Sunday afternoons starting off rehearsals with low energy and having to hide whatever one was thinking and trying to stay focused at what was at hand. But the piece forces you to confront and embrace what you are feeling and just be. We were a group of ladies very poised and giggling entering and then screaming “CUNT” at the top of our lungs with all our glory with our shoes off and proud in Marlisa’s kitchen and her husband walking in looking most confused. But that is what the piece did. It brings us together. Not just as, as in the ones performing, but all of us. The words, the rhythm the feels, the sex contrasted with crude mixed with I am real, alive, here and a being. So that is what I guess keeps me coming back. Every experience is never the same and I end up learning more about myself than anything else and having a family to always go back to.

TheCapeRobyn: Can you talk about the impact on your career – as a result of your Sugar-daddy work and the sense of community and sisterhood as being part of Sugar-daddy?

Sive Gubangxa: I think I mentioned the sisterhood before and what this piece [V-Day] means to me but how it impacts young artists is that is gives you an opportunity to show yourself and your skills in a way that works, no judgement and no extras. I felt like I was practising my skills in a safe space and always felt supported and guided no matter what it was. I have acted for Sugar-daddy, I have designed light and been a stage manager. I was able to stretch and spread my wings as far as possible under the guide of this company. The support for young talent and the eagerness to engage with current issues is truly what made me never want to leave and see a strong future for the company.

TheCapeRobyn:  By the time you did your first V-Day in 2016, you already had recognition?

Sive Gubangxa: True but I believe that all my success and work that happened after was as a result of the company. People only remember you if they see you and you are active doing something. This company kept me relevant active alive and awake and made each moment memorable in the eyes of the audience. I was able to be me and show off stuff that I would never normally be able to so for that I am truly grateful.

TheCapeRobyn:  Lockdown shut down live performance but film continued, sort of. Can you tell us about the last months, since March 26 and the theatre/film work that you have done or projects that you have been involved with – theatre, TV, film?

Sive Gubangxa: Lockdown has been hard on all of us, truly and honestly. I was fortunate enough to book two lovely opportunities while in lockdown. I got to work with Curro Create and Wordsmith’s Theatre Company to create an online show for kids so I was recording heavily during lockdown with all the restrictions. I got to play Professor Brainfreeze with all my mad scientist experiments and I got to be a judge for the Curro Create Young Stars Straight to Camera Competition. I was very grateful for these opportunities while in the heat of the pandemic and now things are looking a little brighter in terms of the wider commercial season opening up.

The Curro work that I did was for the Curro School. The first was Curious Kate which was for young children stuck at home to be educated in a fun and creative way- especially through such difficult times. The second project- Straight to Camera -was for older kids where I adjudicated their work which was presented to us via video streaming and we gave notes and scored their performance. We have such beautiful talent in our country and made me proud of the upcoming artists we have in the industry to make it stronger and something to be proud of. 

I also wrote and was a consultant for on set, for a film, The Incident, for the International Rode Reel Short Film Festival which was super interesting, writing a film through voice notes and emails and then arriving on set and shooting it in three days and seeing it come to life. That was a true highlight for my year and it was the first short film I had written. Something that I am truly and immensely proud of. The film also just won first place for sound design in the international film festival which I am over the moon about.

The film that I wrote was based on my own experience of abuse and sexual assault and how the aftermath can truly destroy the human soul. I found that silence can be so painful and in a country where women are in so much pain and struggling I thought it relevant to bring about conversation how every person can have a life-altering contribution to an already damaged soul. It was important for me to share the struggles someone has to go through deciding if breaking the silence does bring about much change. It was a very difficult and hard piece to write with so much truth so it was important to get that portrayed and also keep all my actors safe and feel comfortable in the process. It was directed by a good friend of mine David O’Connor.

TheCapeRobyn:  What are you currently involved with?

Sive Gubangxa: I am currently just finding my feet before stepping into my final year of my masters degree at UCT. I want to be an all-rounder. That is my dream, theatre and the arts runs through my blood every day and if I’m not performing I am thinking and if I’m not thinking them I’m dreaming. It is all so special to me and something I want to pursue and be proud of for the rest of my life.

I have also collaborated with a few friends to create our own film production company named, Crewless. We are already in production creating material. It was a platform started in lockdown when as artists we felt restricted and closed in. We also felt limited in some respects and this way we were able to join forces to make something meaningful and fun for us. Through this project I am learning how to operate a camera, direct, write and edit as well as do what I love most which is to perform. I think a lot of this go-getter attitude I got form V-Day and Sugar-daddy. To be able to just go for it and make everything I imagine possible.

TheCapeRobyn:  What is next for Sive Gubangxa?

Sive Gubangxa: Well, I am currently in the process of completing my masters in theatre. I really love my craft and I think that there is so much to learn and express through this fantastic medium. I am looking at the black female body as an aesthetic in a post-colonial post-apartheid South Africa. Obviously there is still room for change and adjustment but something about the roles of woman in theatre especially being a black woman have been limiting to say the least and I wish to explore why how far this goes and what can be done to change this. So yeah, the masters and then I would love to teach at university level afterwards, I have taught voice before at UCT and absolutely loved it. I don’t know what’s next for Sive; take over the world I suppose, ha-ha.

Melissa Haiden, Sive Gubangxa, Mikkie-dene le Roux, Shannyn Fourie, 2016. This photo was taken in 2026, by Ant Smythe following a rehearsal of The Vagina Monologues. Supplied.
Poster designed by Lynne Wade.

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