On Friday night the South African State Theatre opened its latest production, Khwezi … Say My Name.
Written and directed by multi-award-winning playwright Napo Masheane, the visceral show is adapted from Khwezi – The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo by Redi Thlabi.
The result is a highly political piece that explores political power as well as the role of women in South Africa.
Khwezi … Say My Name tells the story of a young girl who grew up in exile as part of a communal village of aunts and uncles who fought apartheid – but after 24 years of democracy there remains a battle over women’s bodies. Central to the show is Khwezi’s quest to know her father, Judson Kuzwayo, and to preserve his political life story. In the end she ends up in Forest Town, where she is sexually appropriated by her father’s former best friend, Comrade-Malume Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.
Nompumelelo Mayiyane was cast to play the titular role. Her theatre and film credits include Africa Umoja, Songs of Jazz Town, Too Much Punch For Judy, Rock of Ages, Mad Buddies and Little One.
The 31-year-old says: “I have treated this character with respect,just like how I treat others and I have done my artistic process without worrying too much about people’s expectations. As a team we are going to present as much truth as we can.”
“Through the rape trial the audience becomes part of Khwezi’s court case against one of the most powerful men in South Africa. We are reminded that she was not just a body, metaphor, or a face,”says writer Masheane.
“With explorations of rape, the audience wears the skin of victims of such brutality. Our minds are provoked, and emotions are interrogated, these push us to tap deep into the harsh reality,” explains Masheane – carefully giving away the plot.
Author, journalist and radio presenter Redi Thlabi says she’s proud of what Masheane and the State Theatre have achieved. In the controversial role of Jacob Zuma is JT Medupe.
The cast also includes Nicolas Nkuna (as Zweli Mkhize), Madge Kola (as Beauty, Khwezi’s mom), Gaolatlhe Manthenyane (as Diza, Khwezi’s father), recent Naled iAward recipient Ntambo Rapatla,Willie Ludik, Lechelle Lerm, Cassius Davids, Theresa Mojela,Bridget “Solace” Maswanganye ,2017 Idols SA top 10 finalist Thokozile Ndimande, Tumelo Malalane, Katlego Nche, and Tshegofatso Mabele.
The show will end its first run on August 12.