Out of the ashes of tradition, a group of township actors takes centre stage

 

It is a late weekday night and while most are retiring for the evening, a group of actors are up, rehearsing for one of the biggest performances of their lives. Fluorescent light fills the room. Below it, a young woman stands solemn. She starts to sing, and the actors around her explode into movement.

This is one of many compelling moments from the musical drama Egoli, written, directed and produced by Bongani Titana. The play tells the story of a God-fearing rural woman who travels to Johannesburg in search of her husband. The story is told through music and was performed by the Ubizo Theatre Troupe, which formed in 2009. Along with Titana, the group consists of nine actors, all from the Mfuleni area on the outskirts of Cape Town. Back then, they had few resources and were rehearsing in worn-down shacks and neighbour’s backyards. Thanks to their creativity and determination, they earned a run at the Baxter Theatre. The play has also scooped numerous awards, such as the Outright-Faisit Award for Performance Excellence for Ayanda Dakuse.

Through the toughest of times, Titana and his colleague’s dreams were bigger than their circumstances. In the face of ridicule and doubt, they kept working and supporting each other. They have accomplished a lot since then but still dream of doing so much more.