Pupils’ struggle play on at NAF

The Selborne College Dramatic Society has bagged yet another success: this year, they’re taking their latest theatre play Tableaux in Red: Oil on Canvas, 1976 to the National Arts Festival next week, writes Nonsindiso Owabe.

POWERFUL PERFORMANCES: Sikhu Dliwayo, left, and Juta Makupula form part of the cast of 16 Selborne College Dramatic Arts Society pupils performing ‘Tableaux in Red: Oil on Canvas, 1976’ at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, which starts next week Picture: SUPPLIED

The expressive production, which interweaves symbolism, realism and expressions of South Africa’s bitter past, first made waves at the national ATKV Tienertoneel in Port Elizabeth last year.

It received such rave reviews that the team took the leap and decided to perform it for more members of the public in Grahamstown, beginning next Friday.

The all-male play revisits the 1976 Soweto uprising to tell the tale of a painter trying to find the best way to capture and portray the events of the country’s historic moment.

As he attempts, erases and reattempts his work, he eventually produces 12 sketches capturing the aftermath of the events and the emotional impact of those involved. Writer and director of the play Jo Stemmet said the boys were “super excited about making it to the Arts fest”.

“It is an amazing opportunity and provides the boys with direct contact to the professional theatre industry – an amazing and extremely valuable learning curve.”

The cast comprises 16 boys diversely selected to act out the play’s thought-provoking images.

It features Christian Muller, Chulumanco Nkalashe, Juta Makupula and Sikhu Dliwayo, to name a few. Stemmet said: “the boys are extremely willing and passionate. One can move mountains when you have a cast like that.”

Stemmet said she had initially obtained the rights to translate an American play for the boys, but from its first page, the play just began “rewriting itself”.

“It became original material, going in a completely different direction.

“I then went back and changed the beginning. The entire play then became original material, completely different from the play I was going to translate.”

A drama teacher at Selborne, Stemmet said: “Last year was the 40th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, and I strongly felt that we needed to remember the events from our painful past in order to learn for the future. The whole goal of it was to show these events in a sensitive and sensible, yet creative manner, to serve as a gentle reminder.

‘It also carries a strong message of peace and acceptance, and is filled with hope.”

‘It also carries a strong message of peace and acceptance, and is filled with hope.”

The play was written in Afrikaans, but has been adapted to include English and Xhosa for a wider audience.

“I included all languages because they have an important part in the effect of the play as a whole, ” she said.

The show is on at Glennie Hall in Grahamstown from June 30 to July 2. Tickets are R60 per person, and are available from the National Arts Festival website.



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