Learning through acting

Seeing Babelegi local administrator Rosemary Maboke transformed into a forthright gogo on stage was overwhelming.

But there were other unexpected spin-offs of the acting experience.

The quietly spoken receptionist in Hlanganani region, Maria Mookane, and Maboke researched the history of Oukasie at the library to enrich their understanding. “We read the details.

And when we acted that is when we understood what had happened then at Oukasie. I stay right next to it but it’s only now that I understand why they didn’t want to move.

“We learnt that during apartheid era people were suffering, they were struggling even when they joined the unions; they fought for what they wanted and they were united.

David Modimoeng was in the Brits action committee and fought until he lost his wife, but he still carried on raising his fist.”

Dismissed Numsa shop steward Desmond Neels is also a gospel singer. Coming to acting for the first time he described to the audience the horrors of the Boipatong massacre.

“I did know about Boipatong, but portraying the issue is something else. It makes you feel what happened there.”

Others discovered the acting bug and now there is no stopping them.

“I had never acted before,” says Daphne Modingwane, another dismissed Numsa shop steward. “But I always felt like an actor even at home. (She throws her arms into the air).

Now when someone is quiet at home I ask them ‘why are you quiet – are you just a prop?’”

For Petunia Mkwanazi it was a way of keeping connected to Numsa.

“I got involved because I wanted to understand the history of Numsa. We didn’t know the history; we didn’t know other regions. This play made our eyes open.

The first Saturday after the play when there was no rehearsal, it was like I was lost. We were going to practise every weekend and now there was nothing!”

Plans going forward

In the Western Cape, actors are going to perform their play again at the Sadsawu domestic workers union one-year anniversary celebration.

They also want to take it to Cosatu provincial congress. There are also plans to officially launch the cultural group/committee in their region.

Gauteng will hold a meeting on June 30 to assess their play and make plans going forward.

Actors have shown what can be done through a play, now it is time for regions to take up the challenge and debate how culture can be used to revive, connect people, open people’s eyes and to strengthen Numsa structures.


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