New play heads for the Liberty Theatre in Sandton

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Television, film and stage actress and director Motshabi Tyelele has hit gold in a big way in the new year.

Her new play, Shwele Bawo! A Grave Mistake, is headed to the upmarket Liberty Theatre at Mandela Square, Sandton, next week. It will play from January 10 to February 2. This is no small feat against the background of the fierce competition and the cut-throat politics surrounding theatre spaces in the country.

The versatile artist, whose exploits on television have propelled her to the top as one of the iconic figures on TV over the years, is now increasingly concentrating her artistic energy on the stage.

And that is where she began her acting journey in the first place.

The winner of the 1986 Artes Award for Best Comedy Actress and 2001 Avanti Award for Best Sitcom Actress, Tyelele trained in speech and drama at the University of Cape Town and went on to study public relations with the Public Relations Institute of South Africa and did voice training with The Royal National Theatre Company in London.

Popularly known as Thando in South Africa's well-known sitcom Suburban Bliss, Sophie in Generations and Eve in Madam and Eve, Tyelele is one of the few black actors on stage who have also excelled as producers for their productions. Most producers in theatre are still predominantly white in an artistic genre where the majority of the actors are black.

Her new play, Shwele Bawo! A Grave Mistake, in which she also acts and assumes the role of producer and director as well, must be understood within the context of the dearth of black producers in general and female directors in particular on our theatre stages. She directs Shwele Bawo! A Grave Mistake, a role that inevitably puts her in the spotlight as a director in an area where others have either failed or have chosen to let others direct rather than assume full control of their artistic creations with the possible risk of failure in the process.

And Tyelele's artistic track record is something of which she can be proud. She has worked extensively as an actor in film, television and theatre.

Her other television appearances where she has demonstrated her artistic substance in a big way include the popular children's programme Takalani Sesame, Soul City 6 and Yizo Yizo 3.

Tyelele is just back from starring alongside John Kani in Nothing But The Truth, which toured the UK, after a highly successful season at the Hampstead Theatre in London and has just finished filming the movie version of the same play (Nothing But The Truth).