Chit Chat: Omphile Molusi

2012-06-15 10:01

What is your background in the performing arts?

I started as an actor in the community theatre and then graduated from The Market Theatre Laboratory in 2004.

In 2006, I joined the actors’ centre, which is where I did a lot of Shakespeare and I joined The Market Theatre writers’ forum programme.

I have a number of published plays apart from Itsoseng. I also run a theatre in Bodibe Village in North West.

What difference did winning the Royal Shakespeare Company/ Baxter Theatre Brett Goldin Award make to you?

I got to know other elements of performing Shakespeare. I got the opportunity to get a one-on-one class with John Barton, the guru of Shakespeare himself.

He taught me a lot about interrogating the Shakespeare text. And this is where I met Richard Jordan, who’s been producing Itsoseng ever since.

What is the genesis of Itsoseng?

I think it was in 2002 when Itsoseng had a huge protest about water, electricity, graveyard tariffs and, generally, poor service delivery. After this protest many promises were made by the government.

In 2004, when I returned home, not one of the promises was fulfilled. Shortly after that, a childhood friend of mine passed away and I believed that if she had lived in a developed and better environment, she would still be alive.

This was when I decided to write Itsoseng.

What is the message you hope your audiences have taken with them since the show’s Edinburgh fringe award win in 2008?

I have always wanted Itsoseng to be seen by as wide an audience as possible and for as long as possible.

I hope we are reminded that we have love for this country. But also to remind us that love for a person or a country is not achieved only when we get what we want.

That love is a job. To sustain it, you have to work very hard. Above all, everywhere I perform Itsoseng, I pray and hope that it will matter to anyone who sees it in some way or the other.

What has the audience response been like in places like Edinburgh and Dublin, which are so far away from the play’s setting?

Anywhere I do Itsoseng, I learn that we all experience the same things. It feels like we are in different settings, but in some way we share a reality.

What for you is the hardest part of putting on a one-man show?

You have a huge responsibility to make people believe in your world. You have the challenge of competing with ensembles. The hardest part of it all is making sure they don’t forget what you made them experience.

Do you feel that this show has run its course, or rather do you think you have run your course with it and are ready to move on?

Itsoseng is relevant to us because it still tells a story of a forgotten people, a story of people trying to hold on to hope when there’s none. This is an everyday story and it is always fulfilling for me to tell it.

I have learnt from doing it that theatre matters and story matters. I think for as long as townships like Itsoseng are not experiencing post-apartheid change, I could never move on.

What would you move on to?

Giving a voice to the voiceless.


» Itsoseng plays at The Hangar in Grahamstown on July 5, 7 and 8. Visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za


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