Conversations at the Joburg Theater

The play “Waiting for Nelson” at Space.com stage of Joburg Theater is a fresh breeze of the socially engaged theater.

The young play writer, director, and co-star Mr. Mbasa Tsetsana, and the star of the play, Mr. Musawenkosi Mhlophe, put forth the uncomfortable yet obvious question of why, and who for, are people still waiting to achieve equality for them, and resolve the issue of race in South Africa.

The setting of the play is specific for the South African context, and the play builds on the riches of the local cultural references, making it playful, entertaining and intriguingly dramatic, but also not easily legible to uninformed oversea visitors.

Nonetheless, the question of how the color of skin may become and remain an obstacle to achieving equality and dignity for all people shines right through the play as a universal question. In some other countries, as discussed after the play, the issue may not be the color of skin, but rather just as bizarre obstacles such as ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or some other identity.

The impressive duo of clearly talented actors comfortably use a spectrum of techniques, sometimes acting, and sometimes maybe not, to illustrate that the topic is not only fictional, and situations are not entirely, or only, black and white.

After the play, the actors invited the audience to engage them with questions, comments, and suggestions. Once more, showing that to bring about a change is not only about observing and waiting, but acting oneself.

A wonderful and long-awaited conversation!

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