NG: My name is Natasha Gana. I was a trainee, 2014-15.
TH: Hello, my name is Tina Hashe and I was a Magnet trainee, 2014-15.
ZM: Hello, I’m Zimkhita Mzimba […] I’m a Magnet Theatre graduate, 2015.
SD: Hi, my name is Sivuyile Dunjwa. I am from Khayelitsha. I am also a Magnet Theatre graduate.
Myrto Papoulia (MP) [Dialogue]: What have you done since you left Magnet?
NG: Let me go first! I got the opportunity to be part of the EPW [Magnet Theatre’s Extended Public Works Programme…] I [also] got an opportunity to be part of the production called Buzani Kubawo. It’s an isiXhosa play staged at Artscape […] but I’m also still part of the EPW […] So, I’ve been busy!
TH: I got an opportunity be one of the actors on Mzantsi Magic and also a presenter at Rands Cape Town and also, I’m working on the project with Mandisi.
ZM: For me, I’m currently a trainee at Indoni Dance Company and I did a show called Unondindwa. I’m actually a mentee director, mentored by Thando Mthi.
SD: Where can I start? After graduating in Magnet, I joined Magnet again as an EPWP trainee. Right after doing so, I got an opportunity to be employed by Magnet with a show called TREE/BOOM/UMTHI, which travelled [to] lots of places. We went to Italy, Bologna. And after that we went to Germany, in Hamburg. The following year I did a show, a solo show, which was titled On The Run. I also performed it here in Magnet Theatre, it had a four-day run. Also, I again went to Germany, did the same show TREE/BOOM/UMTHI for another year, in Stuttgart. Also went to U.S., in Brooklyn, we performed in BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music].
NG: You need to be able to discipline yourself because, when we came here, we came from different places, from different backgrounds […] For me, what I took [from the course] is you have to be disciplined – and punctuality, it’s very important in this industry. Even if you’re not ‘that’ good when it comes onstage – but when you are disciplined enough you are able to get employed, by many people, because of your discipline and you being punctual. And just focus and know why you are here because there are many ups and downs. There are many things [that] are happening in the industry and we’re still young and fresh […] So, you just need to be focused and know why you are here and what you have to do and just keep going.
“when you are disciplined enough you are able to get employed” – Natasha Gana
TH: From Magnet I learned that, as Natasha said, discipline and also knowing who are you and why are you doing it […] as I grow up, as I’m doing things, I’m realising that, “This I was taught at Magnet.” Everything I do, everything I say, I just realise, “This I was taught at Magnet.” So, ya, I learned a lot from it.
ZM: For me, I would say creativity, self-management, discipline – of which most of all it’s discipline because discipline covers it all. Like it covers self-discipline, acting discipline, respect for yourself as an artist, and for other artists, and your work too […] I was straight from high school to here. So, I learned a lot of things, I grew here. I learned creativity. I learned here how to own my stuff and to own other people’s stuff that they gave to me to own. So, I would say creativity is the most of all, and discipline. It was not easy but, at the end of the time, you know, actually, ‘this’ is what I got from Magnet, because it’s not what I had before I came here.
“I grew here. I learned creativity. I learned here how to own my stuff” – Zimkhita Mzimba
SD: They’ve said it all. Discipline is the most important thing that we took out of the course. Without discipline, it gets a little bit harder to get employed out there – because if you’re not well disciplined […] they might not employ you for further opportunities or further jobs […] When I came here in Magnet, I came here as an actor, telling myself that I want to go to Magnet and learn how to be an actor. And then I was taught here how to write and [I] a wrote a play On The Run – that is the solo show that I have. After the solo show, I saw that I can write. So, whenever I’m bored at home, sitting at home, there’s a pen, there’s a paper. I write, anything that comes to my mind, I write. And now, I have two plays that I’ve written. They’re not yet on stage, they’re just written. Any time that I get bored, I know I have a show. It’s a solo show […] I always look for space to perform and then perform it.
TH: And also, I’d say that from Magnet I’ve learned to be responsible and stand [up] for myself and also, when we do things we tend to blame other people. I also learned that I should blame myself for whatever [I made] happen. So, Magnet, for me, didn’t only teach me Physical Theatre but a lot of things. And in terms of music, I’ve learned a lot.
“Magnet, for me, didn’t only teach me Physical Theatre but a lot of things” – Tina Hashe
NG: I’d come here in the morning, like feeling down and all that, but […] it would bring my spirit up and I would be able to put a smile upon my face.
“it would bring my spirit up and I would be able to put a smile upon my face” – Natasha Gana
NG: I always had fun. I always looked forward to being here in the morning. Even though I’d be like [grimaces] but, once I get here, I know I’m in the right place.
ZM: Like they say, I never had a down moment at Magnet Theatre. They always told us that, when you step into that gate, or into the door, you leave everything that’s outside, outside. When you get inside the stage, or inside the building, you are a new person. You are an artist. You are a Magnet trainee. So, you leave everything outside […] the people in here, they’ll make you feel like now you have no problems, you’re happy. Jennie Reznek […] she used to teach us Physical Theatre – [in] the morning classes you are forced to forget everything and be in here, in the moment, and just be happy, enjoy the moment. She used to say, “Be in the moment and say yes to everything in the stage.” So, I never had a down moment. It was very fun.
“the people in here, they’ll make you feel like now you have no problems, you’re happy” – Zimkhita Mzimba
SD: For me, they are very difficult to explain in words. They are in my mind. They are in my heart. But I […am] smiling whenever I make Mark Fleishman smile!
“You get to be taught by a lot of people that you wouldn’t even imagine you’ll meet in your life” – Natasha Gana
NG: You know, I don’t have any regrets for being part of Magnet Theatre […] And I know that Magnet is still going to do wonders for me and […] I’m still going to go there and be proud to say that I’m a trainee, a Physical trainee from Magnet Theatre. I’m proud. I don’t have any regrets and I’m grateful for the opportunity as I know there are a lot of people like me from different disadvantaged backgrounds who need this opportunity. I mean you come here, you don’t even have to pay a cent! You get to be taught by a lot of people that you wouldn’t even imagine you’ll meet in your life so why should I regret the moment?
“there are a lot of people like me from different disadvantaged backgrounds who need this opportunity” – Natasha Gana
TH: Before I came to Magnet, I was a lot of people. I knew what I wanted to be but I was a lot of people […] And, ever since I came to Magnet and I realised that, no, this is the person that I want to be. Yeah, it wasn’t easy finding my person. It wasn’t easy […] I’ve grown and I’m proud of the woman that I’m becoming because of Magnet.
“I’m proud of the woman that I’m becoming because of Magnet” – Tina Hashe
ZM: Well, I guess this is the opportunity for me to say to Magnet’s team (Jennie Reznek, Mark Fleishman and all the other people that have taught me at Magnet), thank you […] Thank you for the opportunity that you’ve given me […] I’ve grown in Magnet in so many ways […] I grew here as an artist. I grew here and learned a lot of things. The discipline, self-respect, artistry, creativity, like everything – I learned everything here […] the perseverance they had for us in Magnet when we were here, they made sure that we understand and we get the fact that […] you need this, you need this training in your life. So, basically, I want to say thank you, thank you Magnet Theatre.
“you need this, you need this training in your life” – Zimkhita Mzimba
SD: For me, before coming to Magnet, I knew that I wanted to be an actor and for my family to admit or to understand this type of career that I was choosing, it was very difficult. But after coming here in Magnet, they saw that there is a career in what I’m doing […] Now, today, I’m able to put food on the table for them to eat, out of acting. Now, they take it as a career. It’s no longer a ‘thing’. Before they took it like, “Are you still doing that ‘thing’ of yours? That acting?” Now they know that, “When are you getting your next job?” So, they are constantly asking. “Job”, they say “job”. They know it’s a job. It’s a full-time job. So, now, I’m bold, I’m strong, I’m confident to say, “Hi, my name is Sivuyile, I’m an actor.”
“I’m able to put food on the table for them to eat, out of acting” – Sivuyile Dunjwa
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