School stages acclaimed Mhlope play

2010-07-27 00:00

GCINA Mhlope’s play Have You Seen Zandile? is the first production to be staged at Alexandra High School in ­Pietermaritzburg by drama teacher Ureisha Adimulam. It can be seen in the team-teaching room from today until Friday.

Have You Seen Zandile?, which has toured the world to critical acclaim, is set in 1966 and tells the story of Zandile, who lives with her Gogo in Durban. She’s very bright, loves school and wants to become a teacher when she grows up. But this future is ripped away when she’s kidnapped by her natural mother and taken to live in a rural area.

Far from her adored grandmother, dressed in a sarong, barefoot and cutting thatch grass, she learns to accept a different world. Her destiny, it seems, is all planned for her and her embittered mother is determined that she will marry her off to the son of the richest man in the village.

Back home, Gogo lives with her grief, making beautiful presents for her granddaughter which she places in a suitcase, leaving instructions that if Zandile is ever found, she must be given the case.

Moving, funny and full of Zandile’s shrewd, youthful insights, the play ­offers an illuminating window onto the world of the sixties with its issues of white dominance, rural hardship and black female repression.

Asked why she had chosen the play, Adimulam said: “This year, being the 50th year of Alexandra High School, I decided to do a production and, as this is my first one, I wanted to do something small. The Grade 11s did the play as text last year and I watched them do extracts of it.”

Have You Seen Zandile? has five performers — Nonjabulo Madlala (Zandile), Onela Mbuqe (Gogo), Thobeka Vilikazi (Lulama), Sanelisiwe Khoza (Lindiwe) and Bongeka ­Sibisi (another Gogo). All are Grade 11 pupils, except for Vilikazi, who is in Grade 12.

Rehearsals got under way at the start of the school year and the cast fine-tuned the play during the June-July holidays. “The girls have really enjoyed it,” Adimulam said, “they understand Zandile’s love for her Gogo and not wanting to be with the mother who abandoned her.”

Among those who will be watching the play on Friday will be Mhlope herself. Asked how she felt about the school staging her work, she said: “I’m honoured that after all these years someone wants to stage it … I’m looking forward to seeing it because you never know what to expect.”

Adimulam meanwhile is looking ahead and hopes to stage something bigger next year. “We have such talented children here. They have skills and talents but they are not able to show them off and so they get lost. I want to give them the chance to show those skills,” she added.

• Have You Seen Zandile? can be seen at the Alexandra High School team-teaching room at 3.30 pm today and at 7 pm from tomorrow to Friday. Tickets are R30 from Janet Watson at 033 394 8252.

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