Review: Powerful theatre at the Zabalaza Season of the Best, Masambeni!2nd batch of plays – on until September 18, 2021

Bravo to team Zabalaza and the Baxter for the powerful double bill on its Zabalaza- Season of the Best, Masambeni! We saw Blood on the Road and Ganga Nyoko! Inzima Nyoko! The double bill is on Sep 15, 16, 17, 18.  Both plays grapple with wounds and damaged people wielding damage and pain. The cycle of violence and how does it end? Can it end? 

I was blown away by the 2nd play, Ganga Nyoko! Inzima Nyoko! Brilliant writing. One of the best scripts I have seen staged for a while. Sure, it’s been Rona, but I have watched a lot of online theatre and this is a script of excellence. Sibuyiselo Dywili is the writer and he performs in this harrowing two hander. It is a story of pain, violence, self-loathing, gender violence, the quest for forgiveness, acceptance; self-love; healing. It is about family and friendship and the ties that bind us and keep us apart. It’s a play about us in ?? and it’s a play about everyone; everywhere. It’s graphic. Unflinchingly graphic. Watch out for the suitcase scene. Listen to the nervous laughter of the audience. It is funny – until it’s not. Superb performances by Sibuyiselo Dywili and Siyamthanda Bangani and consummate direction by Siphenathi Siqwayi.  

A new innovation at The Zabalaza, is sur-titles. I could have got the essence of Ganga Nyoko! Inzima Nyoko! but would never have got the layers of this remarkable script, without translation from isiXhosa to English. Brilliant to see the introduction of a sur-title box on the Baxter stage. I must add, that the print is clear and big enough to read. It was great to be able to get into this gripping text and at the same time, having the isiXhosa resonate against the words on the screen. 

The evening was a wonderful experience- excellent Rona protocols. Between the shows, we were served a meal in a box (meat and veg options; no helping oneself at a buffet). Masks were worn by all- in theatre and when not eating. Great to hear people stating their vax status openly. “I have been vaccinated. How about you? It is safe to come in the lift with me.”  (Two people allowed at a time, in lift). 

I loved the vibe. Loved seeing excellent theatre, with brave writing and superlative performances. Congrats to Mdu Kweyama- artistic director and curator of the Zabalaza and the team, Baxter CEO Lara Foot and everyone involved – in making this season a reality.  I am taking a moment to remember the late Zoleka Helesi who was such an integral part of the Zabalaza. I missed seeing her last night