A Week at Dramatic Need: Terence and Mammatli Thakhuli Nzuza
As an applied theatre and drama facilitator, I came to the Free State with my filmmaker husband seeking to find a way to collaborate the drama process with film production. Our intention was to take the children through a process which would allow them to share their experiences and to then develop these experiences into a short film.
I first heard about Dramatic need from the operations manager, Bhekilizwe Ndlovu, whom I worked with on other projects. For a while he encouraged me to visit the centre very sure that it would be worthwhile. Over two months Bheki continued to sing the same song until I decided to run the idea past Terrance. We thought hard about what possible contribution we would have to offer the children of Ramolotsi, and there we decided to combine our separate processes to form an applied theatre and film intervention. We came into Dramatic Need not knowing what process would unfold, which experiences would be shared and what kind of story would be told.
The children were pleasantly surprised when I greeted them in Sesotho; they expected something else it seems. Being a Southern Sotho myself, the group and I found it easier to communicate our thoughts and ideas with one another. The children were generous with their feelings and experiences. I felt there was a sense of relief and comfort in expressing themselves to me as I understood the metaphors in the language. The children were keen to engage in all exercises and generally contribute to the wellbeing of the group. Both the children and I were surprised to have so much in common. Although unorthodox to a facilitator’s practice, our interaction developed into an older and younger sister, mother and daughter relationship. The girls were more interested in my personal story within the process and I intern became interested in theirs. I remember the day of the shoot when we finished late and I drove some of the girls home. In the car we spoke e like old friends and they shared experiences and moments in their everyday lives and asked me questions about mine. It was in that moment that I realized our purpose of being here; it was not teach but to listen.
Mammatli Thakhuli Nzuza
Mammatli Thakhuli-Nzuza is an applied drama facilitator and a Drama For Life Masters scholar specializing in transgenerational research. She is the founder of Meskel Tselote Theatre Organization, through which she initiated her studies on exploring ways to develop transgenerational dialogue in South African communities using applied drama. Mammatli is also a theatre maker who works with marginalized members of the community to raise awareness and encourage dialogue on social ills. Her most recent works include ”Am I Really” (2013), a play about and performed by a group of disabled students and ”You Tell Me” (2010), a play about knowledge transference from elders to the youth, workshoped and performed by Wits drama students and senior citizens of Sharpeville Care of the Aged.
She is an accomplished production designer who has worked with professionals like Vanessa Cook, Makgaola Ndebele, Bhekilizwe Ndlovu, Nobulali Dangazela.
Mammatli is part of the Drama for Life Playback Theatre Company directed by Cathy Barolsky and is an enthusiastic storyteller.
Terance Nzuza’s Profile
Terance Nzuza is a South African painter, screenwriter and film maker with extensive experience in both the Fine Art and Film. As a Fine Artist he has worked with curator Clive Kelner ( Johannesburg Bienal), Kim Berman (Artist Proof Studio) and Mocke van Veuren. He recently produced a documentary, Behind Every Rastaman (2010) a film that deals with representation of black women in the medium of film. Terance’s documentary films have shown in arts festivals such as the Drama For Life Festival (Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban) and has enjoyed presence at the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown). He also does street art occasionally to create social awareness looking at issues affecting young people from disadvantaged communities. Terance is also involved in theatre as an art director, and has worked on productions like ‘You Tell Me’ and ‘Am I Really’ both directed by Mammatli Thakhuli-Nzuza.
The Child Who Never Played Says;
'I would curl up in a chair or, if I wasn't tired take a walk by myself. I loved to watch children play. It was more exciting to me than the best melodrama. Because we were with adults so much of the time, both Dorothy and I grew up too fast. I had no idea what to say to another child my own age. I was sensible and responsible but I never did learn how to play' (Viking Kestrel in An Actor’s Life for Me!)