An actor tries to share how he uses theatre to deal with his own grief, but forgets that theatre requires conflict, tension, and opposition to enable a cathartic release from pain. SWARINGANA is a mash-up of enthralling physical theatre, engaging storytelling, and formidable character-acting, that offers an exciting metatheatrical experience of grief spiralling out of control. With depth and intertextual panache, a narrative unfolds that explores how we posit faith, friendship, wealth, strength, and beauty as superficial defences against the raging pain of loss.
Developed and devised over the course of the 2020 lockdown and its immediate fallout, SWARINGANA is a powerful one-man show born out of performer Sikhuthali Oliver Bonga’s quest for reconciliation between his dual upbringing: the realm of a traditional cultural isiXhosa community, and the Western influences of church, school and modernisation. Juxtaposing insightful postcolonial considerations of great works from the Western theatre canon with personal anecdotes and documentary material about the everyday existence of many South Africans, the play offers an engaging experience of the extent and variety of ways we try to suppress those nagging negative aspects of existence while we search for purpose, and happiness.
Created by: Sikhuthali Oliver Bonga and Walter Strydom
Performed by: Sikhuthali Oliver Bonga
Directed by: Walter Strydom
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Sikhuthali Oliver Bonga (co-creator/performer) is a Bloemfontein-based theatre practitioner and scholar hailing from Qumbu in the Eastern Cape. Sikhuthali’s passion for the performing arts developed at an early age as a praise poet, and he was named as the Best Actor in 2014 upon completing school at Ugie High School. Completing his studies in theatre and performance in 2019 with the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of the Free State, he was awarded the department’s prizes for Best Theatre Making student and the Best Artistic Contribution. Sikhuthali is currently pursuing a master’s degree specializing in Immersive Theatre while working as an academic facilitator. Collaborating on numerous theatre and interdisciplinary arts projects, Sikhuthali has been directing, writing, and performing in student and professional theatre work since 2017. Ultimately, he is driven to expand his knowledge and skills in creating uniquely South African art and to reinvest these insights in the youth of his community back home – to enable young people in the rural Eastern Cape to use art to tell their own stories.
Walter Strydom (co-creator/director) is an award-winning theatre artist, director, academic, and educator who is passionate about the possibilities for arts and education to empower individuality, establish and strengthen cross-cultural bonds, and promote social cohesion and social justice. With a predilection for experimenting with theatrical form, he has worked on several acclaimed productions known for their innovative and fresh perspective on theatrical art. His stylised take on the anti-fracking debate, VREK, won the Vrystaat Arts Festival’s award for Best Paradigm-Shifting production in 2013, and he co-directed Sarah which went on to win the Best Production award in 2017. Walter holds a Masters degree in theatre analysis methodology and semiotics, and has lectured numerous academic and practical courses at tertiary level since 2012.