LM: My name is Lwando Magwaca. I graduated 2016. From 2014, 2015, 2016 – so I had three-years intensive programme training with Magnet Theatre.
Tegan Arazny (TA) [Dialogue]: AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SINCE YOU LEFT MAGNET THEATRE AND WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
LM: Essentially, I think one of the things that I have been successful with, while I was still in Magnet, [was that] I was [able] to keep contact with the groups [that I was involved in] before I came to Magnet […] And that was a success on its own. So, when I was in this programme at Magnet […] I was able to take some of the skills that I’ve learned […] and go back to and train and facilitate programmes of change in my church. I call it Bible Theatre. So, we sometimes, as a church, gather together and we train each other and then we perform for the church and then we instil those skills – because they are scarce. And [then there are also] some poetry sessions that I have managed to lead. Also, there is a big group called Nyanga Arts Development which encompasses more than 150 people, which performs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays. So, I have been successful in doing that job because of the other intensive skills I learned from Magnet Theatre. It has been easy for me to also instil it in my community.
Now I’m going to Germany […] with 23 [years, a month and 7 days], which was a production that was devised here in Magnet Theatre, facilitated by Jennie [Reznek] and directed by Nwabisa Plaatjie. Now, there’s a door for us to go to Germany. This Sunday we are going to Germany to perform it.
“I have learned that no one is useless, no one is nothing”
To be honest, I think Magnet Theatre encompasses the spirit of ubuntu, the spirit of humanity, the spirit of creativity and that for me alone speaks volumes to what I am doing, where I’m coming from […] At that time [before coming to Magnet Theatre] I was in a critical space, where my creative side of myself was just fading away. And then I came here and then I was revived. I was rooted, I was made to have a good focus. I was enlightened more intense[ly] to what I want to do, and […] what I want to achieve in my life […] I have learned that no one is useless, no one is nothing […] In a sense of creativity, there is no one that does not contribute to Theatre. When you are talking about Theatre, especially when you come to Magnet Theatre, whether you are doing comedy or you are doing poetry, or you are doing dancing, we have some stuff that we can take back to our communities and do and perform. And all those […] form a bigger picture of what we say is the spirit of ubuntu and the spirit of creativity.
“Magnet Theatre encompasses the spirit of ubuntu, the spirit of humanity, the spirit of creativity”
It has managed to keep so many people so far: my mentors, the people I used to see performing in bigger stages, performing in smaller stages, my directors: Mandla Mbothwe, Thando Doni, Lwanda Sindaphi, Nwabisa Plaatjie and many others […] For me, Magnet Theatre is a home. What it does to you [is that] it roots you, it makes you focus, it makes you a leader. If you are a writer, a director, a theatre maker, it makes you better. It does not just leave you anywhere. It takes you back, it gives you a hand where you can go back to our community, or you can direct or you can assist.
We’re living in times where you [often] feel like, “is my skill, is my gift enough?” When you [train at Magnet] you feel that, “I’m proud, I’m certain I know what I can do.” That’s what the programme offers to us – especially if you are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds where Theatre is only in Obs [district of Cape Town where Magnet Theatre is based …] There’s nothing of Theatre, of creativity where we live, [but] you learn to become an initiator. This is what it does, without [you] even thinking about it. The spirit we breathe in this place, we take it back to where we live […] Magnet Theatre is making changes directly and indirectly, positive changes.
“There’s nothing of Theatre, of creativity where we live, [but] you learn to become an initiator.”
Constantly we have memories in this building. [The] first memory I had was being swallowed by that big Theatre space. I was very tiny, shy, knowing not what to do and then I held back a lot of my energy and my focus and the stage was so big and when I spoke and it felt like my words came back to me. It was very funny. Two years later, I was able to take up that space and own it […] you can’t believe that you have achieved that […] And also, [another good memory was when] we went to Clanwilliam with 2000 kids – there were so many kids. They constantly inform you never to lose hope or to give up on Theatre, or [on] impacting [the] community because, when you see those little children, in their numbers, hungry for you to say something, or to do something, or to teach, or to do crazy stuff, it constantly reminds us that we’re living in time and in societies that need more people who can influence the community in a positive way, [people] who can give back to the community and can transform [the] community, people who see themselves as vehicles of change in this time … I cannot say it more [clearly than]: we learned that here. We come from broken backgrounds where there [is] nothing we can do […] but once we are here we learn to say […] “I’m the change in my community where I live and in my house”.
“once we are here we learn to say […] ‘I’m the change in my community where I live and in my house’”
And I’m happy also to become part of the alumni for today […] to be part of the bigger group because we are family. It’s like threads of family being put together in one space, like gifts put together to shine, to see each other shine […] I’ve missed some of my friends but they are here and I am very happy about it […] And finding that people are working, people are employed! One of the things that is successful about Magnet Theatre, [is that] you fight your way so that you can have bread on your table. Make sure we are employed because the skills we have, I don’t mean to be bragging, but the skills that we have and the physical training, the physical intelligence, the language we have here is so rare. To an extent that when you go to auditions, you are taken not because you are special but because we realise now that Jennie and Mark, and Magnet Theatre, and the ones that are working in the office, they create a space where excellence just flows. I’ve never went to an audition where I’m not taken […] It makes us good, we can feel good. You trust yourself and you trust this training. You don’t do something new [at auditions], something you don’t know, you do something excellently.
“Jennie and Mark, and Magnet Theatre, and the ones that are working in the office, they create a space where excellence just flows”
I can only say Magnet Theatre must keep on making more leaders, more Theatre makers, more vibrant young people to infiltrate our spaces. And I pray that the funding might keep on coming and keep on flowing because there is so much change and there is so little funding that is at hand […] I have seen so many people’s lives change. I’ve seen so many generations, after me, before me […] For me, that’s the only thing I want to say for now. Otherwise, I’m blessed. It’s nice to be at Magnet Theatre. To be part of this company is a great thing.
“I pray that the funding might keep on coming and keep on flowing because there is so much change and there is so little funding that is at hand […] I have seen so many people’s lives change.”
Please click here to access Dialogue’s other posts in this series of interviews with alumni and staff of Magnet Theatre.
The Full-Time Training and Job Creation Programme receives support from TK Foundation, Rand Merchant Bank, Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Hosken Consolidated Investments Ltd Foundation, Rolf-Stefan Nussbaum Foundation, Ampersand Foundation, Potjie Foundation, Business Arts South Africa, Western Cape Government Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports Expanded Public Works Programme, Joan St Leger Lindbergh Charitable Trust, and Distell.
Transcribed by Norah Ringma
© Dialogue Community Performance / Magnet Theatre