Theatre festival stages the cream

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Theatre features prominently in the Mpumalanga Arts and Culture International Festival (MacFest), which started last week, thanks to the vision of leading playwright Jerry Mofokeng.

"Many times when I go to the so-called arts and culture festivals, I only find music on the programme.

"I am not denying that music is incredibly important at any event for bringing people together.

"But we have such amazing theatre to see in this country that I feel passionately that this should be given prominence at MacFest International," said Mofokeng.

The MacFest International is hosted by the Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation.

The Suitcase, a play that is an adaptation of a short story written in 1954 by established writer and academic, Es'kia Mphahlele, will be performed at the festival.

The play features Siyabonga Twala and Nqobile Sepamla in the lead roles.

"It is a great piece of theatrical work. At the end, believe me, people in the audience will be reaching for their tissues, but they will be left feeling somehow cleansed. It is extraordinary stuff," said Mofokeng.

Umoja, which is also in the festival's lineup, will entertain those who are more interested in dance and musical theatre.

It will be the first time that the production will be taken to Mpumalanga after performing at major cities throughout the world.

Other artists featured are storyteller and poet Gcina Mhlope and comedian, script writer and director Paul Slabolepszy.

For Slabolepszy, being part of the MacFest International lineup is like returning back home to his roots because this highly gifted performer spent some of his youth in the province. His show promises to leave theatre goers rolling in the aisles.

Mofokeng said: "The lineup is really something special. I know that people who do not buy their tickets for any or all of these theatre productions are going to regret it."