Sopotela offers food for thought

Chuma Sopotela is appearing in 'Another One's Bread'. / Supplied
Chuma Sopotela is appearing in 'Another One's Bread'. / Supplied

Performer Chuma Sopotela, who is appearing in the theatre piece Another One's Bread, has proved why she won the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year in the performance art category.

Another One's Bread opened last week at the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg, and it has wooed audiences and wowed critics.

It tackles the complex dynamics of food insecurity, nutrition and hunger in a funny and creative way. Written by Mike van Graan, the production is directed by award-winning television actress Pamela Nomvete.

Sopotela says that Another One's Bread explores various themes related to hunger in the context of the relationships between four women in Khayelitsha.

The four women are members of The Substitutes, a group of professional mourners, or people who are paid to cry at funerals.

"Modern funerals are different these days. People wear expensive make-up and they do not want to waste it with tears. This is where professional mourners come in, to cry on their behalf," Sopotela says.

"One of the things we highlight in the show is how food plays a big role in black funerals. But we have also added a very crucial and educative element, where these four women take the leftovers and give it to children from poor backgrounds."

Sopotela says that as much as it is a comedy show, the play is educational. She says it also speaks about the level of education in South Africa.

"The play educates the public that instead of wasting the funeral food, it can given to different orphanages or street kids."

The play, commissioned by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security, opened in Cape Town, where Sopotela is based, three months ago.

The actress from Eastern Cape, who studied drama at the University of Cape Town, says winning the Standard Bank award has encouraged her to continue working hard.

"Though I did not expect the award, it is encouraging to be recognised for what you are doing. It means that someone is noticing the efforts you put in."

Sopotela has featured in films such as Zulu, Stillborn and Jan Umkhwetha.

Her theatre acting credits includeKaroo Moose, Ityala Lamawele and The Memory of How it Feels.

The performer, who regards herself as an activist, started acting at Ikhwezi Theatre Development. She has also worked with NGOs such as the Treatment Action Campaign and Doctors Without Borders in the fight against HIV/Aids.

The play is on until February 4.

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