Maimane!, performed by the Drama For Life Theatre Company (dir. Warren Nebe), is an insightful play about the goings-on in a township called Mkhukhuville. Through the cast’s multi-roling, the play alternates between stories of Children and stories of Adults – a compelling feature of the play. Themes relevant to today’s Youth, such as peer pressure, bullying, selfishness and entitlement, are brought to the surface by these narratives of the townsfolk. As such, the play speaks to the power of Community and recognises the struggles that many Young People in South Africa face on a daily basis.
I interviewed the director, Warren Nebe, after the show to find out more about where the inspiration for the production had come from:
Victoria Moran [Dialogue] (VM): What was the inspiration for the show?
Warren Nebe (WN): Trying to work out what would speak to an eleven- and twelve-year old audience in South Africa right now.
VM: And Mkhukhuville is something they would have heard of?
WN: It means shantytown so it’s a reference. The township is a common symbol in South Africa of township life for the majority of South Africans.
VM: Are all the townships quite problematic towns like Mkhukhuville?
WN: I think there is minimal land, lack of space, congestion, lack of services – those are the problems.
VM: Was the Play trying to give a message?
WN: What we were trying to do was to look at a ten-year old’s hero’s journey. So we’ve been testing it with ten-year-olds. So in urban Johannesburg, the language that we use is much more accessible. So we’re struggling here a little bit with kids who are six and seven.
VM: I loved the multi-rolling within the play. Was that to get an idea of the various people in the town?
WN: I think so, yeah, and I think it’s a common storytelling style in South Africa as well. It’s the joy of the multiplicity and that’s something that we’ve found and tested with children and that’s one of the things that they love.