Healing society with the power of performance

 

Theatre has the power to save society. That is what Mandisi Sindo thinks. When the Ikhwezi Theatre Company visited his primary school in 1998, their goal was to raise funds for an upcoming tour of France. But their performance that day had an unlikely and even further reaching side effect. It inspired an 11-year-old Sindo to begin a journey with theatre that, when he grew up, would send him around the world. His natural talent landed him roles in productions that travelled as far as India and America.

After living the dream of performing abroad as an established artist, he returned home and found a gap that needed to be filled. The theatre scene that flourished overseas existed in South Africa, but not everywhere. Not in the township where Sindo grew up. Invigorated by pride for his people, he started Theatre4Change, a non-profit organisation dedicated to furthering township performance art. His initiative has been recognised, with Sindo winning the Fleur du Cap Award for Innovation in Theatre in 2017.

“I wanted to challenge the notion that in South Africa, art is reserved for privileged people,” he says. Theatre4Change is currently based out of the Makukhanye Art Room, also known as the Shack Theatre in Khayelitsha. Through the project, Sindo hopes to provide a platform to a diverse group of performers to showcase their talent, as well as gain skills training and guidance from experienced artists. But their goal is about more than the transfer of skills. It’s about igniting a passion for the arts within all South Africans.