Kulani Nkuna
2 minute read
2 Oct 2013
6:00 am

Voices of a generation

Kulani Nkuna

It is a given that theatre and many other art forms are in constant competition with other forms of entertainment for the attention of the youth (Youth League-style 18-36 "young").

This should not even be an issue and local theatre could be considered in excellent health if brilliant works like Hayani, created by young artists, are produced on a regular basis.

The reason this play opened to a standing ovation is down to the fact that it puts on show before the public a generation who lived their formative years during the country’s transition. A focus on this generation has become standard on television, but the theatre space has yet to fully explore it. Nat Ramabulana and Atandwa Kani sizzle in this cleverly written piece of stage magic.

The pair combined their vastly differing backgrounds to come up with a story that has common threads running through it, illustrating that, although they may be worlds apart socio-economically, they are part of a generation with similar struggles, ambitions and triumphs.

Hayani is an original play reflecting on the concept of home in the context of South Africa since its transition. The play explores the stories of two young South African males who both travel back home and, on their journey, work towards a better understanding of who they are and what it really means to be South African.

Kani hails from New Brighton, Port Elizabeth and Ramabulana comes from Thoyandou in Limpopo, and the pair give equally stunning performances as they weave their personal narratives against the tumultuous transitional years of their homeland. Along their journey they recollect their memories – painful, awkward and funny – of childhoods and teen years, weaved into an honest and enriching tale.

The piece is memorable and filled with elements of a great theatric spectacle, drama, comedy and dance. It resonated with the audience and many of those watching reacted by responding with loud laughter, resulting in the actors having to wait for the audience to finish before carrying on with their lines. As the actors switched from playing themselves to each other’s parents the audience applauded at the end of every scene.

It certainly takes some ability for two black male actors to convince the audience that at one point they are an old white woman (Ramabulana depicting his father’s employer) and an old black woman (Kani depicting his mother).