Director and Writer: Siyabulela Javu
She who is rooted in stories of healing and revolution. Siyabulela Javu is a 23-year-old second year Masters student in Drama at Rhodes University. She has written and directed a work, Mafungwashe, which showcased at the National Arts Fringe Festival (2021). She has also performed in National Arts Festival productions namely: A Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award winning work, Bayephi, directed by Thembela Madliki (2017), Best ensemble award-winning student production, Seeing Red, directed by Mmatumisang Motsisi (2018), and Skinned directed by Siph’esihle Ndaba (2018).
Born in the Eastern Cape, Siyabulela is a storyteller who expresses herself through directing, writing, acting, spoken word and song. A healer, she acknowledges that Akahambi Yedwa; She walks with those from the past, who hold the present and are a compass for the future. This is reflected in all her expressions of Art which she calls ‘iCamagu’ – a manifestation of light (in darkness) and life.
Actor: Matshawandile Kopele
Matshawandile Kopele is an actor, musician, choreographer and dancer, director and visual artist. Born in Bhisho, he is an Eastern Cape product who has done numerous artistic works for the University of Johannesburg Arts and Culture Department in 2017 and 2018, namely: National Arts Festival, SA Book Fair, Joburg Theatre and Market Theatre. Some of the works he collaborated in are James and the Giant Peach directed by Alby Michaels (2017) and Choir boy directed by Ayanda Bulose (2018). Kopele recently studied Drama at Rhodes University and has created and performed in works such as Pitso ea Linonyana directed by Selloane Mokuku, Mmatumisang Motsisi, Upile Bongco and choreographed by Gary Gordon (2019/2020) for the Rhodes Drama Department. Kopele also played the role Themba in Mafungwashe directed by Siyabulela Javu at the National Arts Festival in (2020). Kopele also stage managed Gavin Krastin’s National Arts Festival visual installation and production Swell (2021).
He is the founder of an Authentic African Musical band called Spiritual Realm founded in 2020. He describes all his artistic creations as an energy that comes from and speaks to the soul.
Actor: Nikho Tsotsi
Nikho Tsotsi is a 22-year-old performer from the Eastern Cape. Tsotsi is currently doing her Honours in Drama at Rhodes University. She graduated from AFDA with a BA in Live Performance and was nominated for the Fleur Du Cap Most Promising student of 2021. Tsotsi believes in telling the truth of the story. What she enjoys the most in being an artist is how she gets to tell a captivating story to the audience. She enjoys walking in a character’s shoes and settling into their truth and story. That is what she strives to do in every performance: to show the truth no matter how ugly or beautiful it is.
Actor: Sange Mpambani
Sange Mpambani is currently a second year student at Rhodes University, studying Drama, Art History and Visual Culture and Classics. They are an emerging performance artist, writer, singer and physical performer. Sange is interested in body and performance art around the gallery, and the public, as a way of queering the landscape, deconstructing binaries by creating queer characters (avatars) that dare to go out there and politicise identity politics, and oppression and violence queer bodies experience. Their love for interdisciplinary works started when they took drama and dance in high school, and that showed when they were involved in Magnet Theatre’s culture gang project, Artscape High School Drama Festival, Artscape Shakespeare Schools Festival.
Actor: Nokulunga Masia
Nokulunga Masia, is a 19-year-old student who describes herself as a learning and growing artist. Masia’s journey in theatre began in primary school and has carried her throughout high school plays, to the Festival of Excellence into Dramatic Arts in 2016 and currently into her university career. Masia is a Rhodes University student where she majors in Drama Studies, and also studies Human Kinetics and Ergonomic, Political and International Studies, and Instrumental Music Studies.
Masia describes the streets of Soweto, Johannesburg, where she was born and raised, as alive, and that they are a constant reminder of the importance of preserving the magical and unique culture of storytelling. Welcoming and embodying the energy that fills a story, whether it be through the characters, emotions, or words, is something that has interested her in theatre. Her eagerness to throw herself into this culture and explore the artistry of theatre and acting, is her way of constantly reaching for this piece of her identity that continues to shape her perspective on living.
Masia hopes are that this journey of reaching and finding is ultimately fulfilling, and has an impact that goes beyond what she can see, hear or touch because that’s what theatre is – energy everywhere and anywhere for everyone and anyone.