Theatre Through the veil of African stories

Through the veil of African stories

A simple set, reminiscent of a high school production, welcomes me as I enter the dim space. Despite the minimal set, however, this production exceeded all my expectations, and kept me nailed to my seat from beginning to end.

Anele Penny, Zinathi Nqewanges, Vuyo Mtokazi and Ludwe Mgolombane perform in Fringe Drama ‘Veil’ at the Masonic Back, Masonic Hall, Hill Street, Grahamstown, 08 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. ‘Veil’ was written and directed by Zwai Mgijima. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

Anele Penny, Zinathi Nqewanges, Vuyo Mtokazi and Ludwe Mgolombane perform in Fringe Drama ‘Veil’ at the Masonic Back, Masonic Hall, Hill Street, Grahamstown, 08 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. ‘Veil’ was written and directed by Zwai Mgijima. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

Veil is a high-energy two-hander. Ali, who is played by Anele Penny, is a Somali refugee who flees his war-torn country in search of employment in South Africa. Zinathi Ngcwangu plays Nosipho, a Xhosa woman who finds companionship despite the complexities of her personal life.

The two represent the complex divide that exists among South Africans and migrants that come from other African countries. As our society recovers from recent xenophobic attacks, the production does a splendid job in revealing the complexities that exist in various South African communities. Although the subject matter is heavy, the addition of quick wit and satire provides relief.

Penny’s performance as a Somalian is accurate from his accent to his mannerisms, and Ngcwangu’s portrayal of a rural Xhosa girl is extremely convincing, transporting me right to the scene of the action. Guitarists Vuyo Mtokazi and Ludwe Mgolombane manage to infuse the dramatic action with a tranquil ambience, bringing a measure of peace to the chaotic world of Ali and Nosipho. Director Zwai Mgijima has done a fine job weaving together the lives of people who defy the constraints brought about by stereotyping and xenophobia.

Veil represents African stories that need to be told again and again as they will always remain relevant for both South Africans and our neighbours.

Thabile Vilakazi
Cue student reporter

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