Chatting with Asanda Rilityana and Emmanuel Ntsamba

An Interview with Magnet Theatre Alumni

AR: My name is Asanda Rilityana and I was one of the first to graduate. I graduated in 2011. Or 10? Between those years. It was a long time ago!

EN: And my name is Emmanuel [Ntsamba]. I graduated in 2015 and then I did another year, that following year.


AR: I have been working in the mainstream Theatre, doing mainstream Theatre, and also I started doing Baby Theatre about four years ago, which is what I’m currently doing at the moment and ya, […]  travelling the world!

EN: I recently graduated from Magnet last year […] in February [2017] we went to Germany with a show, because I do Baby Theatre as well, so I think that was my first production, mainstream-style production, after Magnet Theatre. And then, recently, I did another work with her [Asanda Rilityana] (we were in the same show) that only happened recently.


EN: That was Buzani Kubawo, which is an isiXhosa production for schools around South Africa. And, right now, I am currently rehearsing a show. We will be leaving on Sunday to Germany with another show. So, I’ve been trying also to find my feet as well in the mainstream Theatre. Yeah, I’m really finding it very good. I’m excited.

Photo Credit: Magnet Theatre

AR: I think what I have taken from the programme […] was, as a performer, as a young professional, was discipline because we were taught discipline. That, as an artist, you need to be disciplined. From knowing your time and respecting your time and being there at the time that you’re supposed to be there. And I think I have taken that in[to] my professional life because I think that I am one of the disciplined actors from Magnet who are still there, who are still doing great. And I think it’s because of that that I have been doing great as a young artist in Cape Town who has never been to the university, to study drama like […] other people that I happen to work with. So, I think that is what I have taken, discipline. And just, personally, I took knowing who I am and respecting and loving the person that you are [from my training at Magnet], because, if you respect this, then I guess your life in the Theatre will also respect you.

“I took knowing who I am and respecting and loving the person that you are [from my training at Magnet]” – Asanda Rilityana

Photo Credit: Magnet Theatre

EN: Well, with me, I’m sharing the same sentiments as her [Asanda]. I think discipline is what Magnet has really instilled in me now in our craft – especially when you are in the process of training. They instill that – discipline, discipline, discipline all the way […] We recently did, we made work for Baby Theatre shows […] it was the first time, actually my first time, being exposed to such work. But one thing stood out for me, and one thing that I took away from the course was that being yourself just for you, just to be yourself as a performer when you perform – because, at times, you always perform to be someone else, you play someone’s emotions, someone’s whatever. But then, when I was introduced to Baby Theatre, the notion of just being yourself and really trusting that, once you learn to do that it really talks for the work. So, I really believe that I’ve taken that even with my mainstream work, that as much as I’m playing someone else, I also need to be myself and just pull those things together and they tend to be something beautiful and profound. So, I really think I’ve really taken the notion of being myself and discipline, discipline, discipline – very much.

“I think discipline is what Magnet has really instilled in me”- Emmanuel Ntsamba

AR: And Physical Theatre. This Theatre, specifically Magnet Theatre, specialises in Physical Theatre. It’s one of the things that we are trained in and it’s something that I really, really love and I use it wherever I go because it’s a language that some people are not given, or are not taught, and it makes us unique. Even when you get onstage, and you are given a task or whatever, and you do it and some people would immediately ask, “Are you from Magnet?” And you’re like, “Yeah.” So, it’s also that that I have really loved taking from Magnet. Just that special skill. Telling your story, a story, with your body and not relying on…EN: …text.

EN: …text.

AR: …other factors. You can just be onstage, on an empty stage, and just tell a story and be understood. That is the beauty of Physical Theatre that I really love.

“Even when you get onstage […] some people would immediately ask, ‘Are you from Magnet?’ And you’re like, ‘Yeah’” – Asanda Rilityana

EN: And I was going to add something that the most thing that Magnet pushed in us was that you need to make time for work. Like investing your time, making time, really putting an effort to make your craft what you want it to be. So, those are the things that we are going to remember onwards, to carry out from the Magnet Theatre programme, so it really has a lot of impact on us and then, same as [Asanda’s point about] Physical Theatre, I was never introduced to Physical Theatre before I came to Magnet. I used to even be afraid of doing a Physical Theatre piece when I do my work outside of Magnet. Because I’m not familiar but when I came to Magnet I understood, or got an understanding of, what it means to tell a story using your body or without using … text. So, I think it has really a lot of impact.


AR: What I wanted to say was just to thank the Magnet team, from Mark to the staff, for this platform because it is a platform that has opened so many doors for most of us who are ex-Magnet trainees. And so, I feel like we have never, I have never been given that opportunity to actually really thank them because I am this person that I am today and I travel. I have grown immensely in all aspects because of the foundation and the seed that Magnet had planted in my life … in many of ours (I’m speaking for many of those who didn’t happen to be here who were in my year) because we really are grateful, I really am grateful for such a programme and I really pray that it can go forever and it may get more funding to run because it really does make a change in our communities and in our society and in our Arts industry.

“I have grown immensely in all aspects because of the foundation and the seed that Magnet had planted in my life” – Asanda Rilityana

EN: I think, again, thank you, thank you. That’s what I have to say. Thank you so very much and we are very much grateful. When people talk of Magnet they always say it’s one of the institutions, or one of the Theatre companies, that has [a] different way of training performers. And, in Cape Town, it is the only Theatre company that gives us this profound and valuable training. So, for me, I am very much grateful to have been part of [it] – and this really comes from my heart. What a journey! And I’ve made the best out of myself and I think, without having to prolong things, I’m grateful to have been part of this wonderful and exciting programme. And, same as what she said, I wish them [a] waaaaaaaay long journey with their dreams, with their dreaming and their vision as a company. Yeah, I’m really praying that God can open many doors…..

AR: ….for the company. And, ya, we will continue making them proud, you know they’re like, “Yes! That’s our student! That’s our kid!” Because we also carry that when we’re out there doing our work. We’re like, “We’re from Magnet!”

EN: Just raising the banner up high!

“I really pray that it can go forever and it may get more funding to run because it really does make a change in our communities and in our society and in our Arts industry” – Asanda Rilityana

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 FoundationRand Merchant BankOppenheimer Memorial TrustHosken Consolidated Investments Ltd FoundationRolf-Stefan Nussbaum FoundationAmpersand FoundationPotjie FoundationBusiness Arts South AfricaWestern Cape Government Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports Expanded Public Works ProgrammeJoan St Leger Lindbergh Charitable Trust, and Distell.

Transcribed by Norah Ringma
© Dialogue Community Performance / Magnet Theatre