Napo Masheane adapts ‘Khwezi’ book for theatre

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The State Theatre in association with Village Gossip Productions presents ‘’Khwezi … Say My Name’’ from 25 July to 12 August.

The State Theatre in association with Village Gossip Productions presents ‘’Khwezi … Say My Name’’ from 25 July to 12 August.

Written and directed by the multi-award-winning playwright and director Napo Masheane, adapted from “Khwezi … The remarkable story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo” by author Redi Tlhabi.

“Khwezi … Say My Name” tells the story of a young girl, Khwezi, who grew up in exile as part of a communal village of aunts and uncles who fought an evil system. The noble cause against apartheid, was, and 24 years of democracy later, remains a battleground upon women’s bodies on different fronts. In her quest to know her father, Judson Kuzwayo, and to preserve his political life’s story, Khwezi ends up in Forest Town, where she is sexually appropriated by her father’s former best friend, Comrade Malume Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.

“Through the rape trial the audience becomes part of Khwezi’s court case against one of the most powerful men in South Africa. We are reminded that she was not just a body, metaphor, or a face. Not a battleground or ripples of horror. But that she had a real name: Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo. With various explorations of rape, the audience wears the skin of victims of such brutality. Our minds provoked, and emotions interrogated, push us to tap deep into the harsh reality,” explains Masheane – carefully giving away the plot.

Author, journalist and radio presenter Redi Thlabi says she’s super proud of what “Napo’’ and the State Theatre has achieved and wishes the production a great success. She called in during a live interview between the playwright and the talk show host Aubrey Masango on the talk station Radio 702. “I’m throwing my heart and soul it (the play). I hope the State Theatre is giving you the freedom which talented professional women like yourself (Masheane) deserve to adapt, interpret and present the story the way you see it,” said Thlabi.

In the musical play, Masheane uses theatre license of strong languages, powerful dance pieces choreographed by award-winning Luyanda Sidiya. She draws inspiration from piercing spiritual sound and music created by a brilliant, versatile and multitalented musician; Azah who is the protégée of Dr Philip Tabane’s famous band Molombo.

“The play holds symbolic, provocative images and nostalgic visuals of the various rapes including that of Khwezi. But above all I have tried to hold dear the memory, the essence and feeling of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo as narrated by Redi Tlhabi and those who have witnessed her pain, as well as her moving deep scars. Khwezi indeed and truly represents many of us (even some of us who are yet to tell our stories of rape out loud),” urges Masheane.

The award-winning playwright and director previously brought to theatre shows such as her provocative and hilarious one-woman show “My Bum is Genetic Deal With It” and “The Fat Black Women Sing”. Fast forward to 2015, Napo Masheane became the first black woman to write, produce and direct a play called “A New Song” at the Market Theatre Main’s stage (John Kani Theatre). While one of her monologues was picked up on the international circuit “Mama the Storm Is Outside” was chosen to be performed by leading actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) at Royal Court (London). She is former Deputy Artistic Director of the State Theatre.