THE Opera House in Port Elizabeth has been chosen by the National Arts Council as the venue for the debut outside Johannesburg for a new play, to be staged at its intimate venue, The Barn, tonight at 7pm.
Play co-director Xolani Ngesi says: “With My Own Blood is a story about a girl named Manche, who is from a village of Ga-Marishane in Limpopo. In this area the dominant tribe is baPedi, a people who strongly embrace and hold onto their culture and customs.
“The story takes place at the time when the missionaries first went to Ga-Marishane, and southern Africa.
“Manche embraced, and became devoted to, the holy Gospel and the practices of Christianity brought by the missionaries. Her new-found faith and religion resulted in her being killed by the villagers who were against the missionary invasion.”
Written by Hendrick Mathongwane from Limpopo, the play is directed by Mongezi Ncwadi with co-directors Xolani Ngesi and Xabiso Zweni.
Ngesi, who also acts in the play, paid tribute to the cast of “dedicated people who love and know what they are doing”.
He added that they had encountered “some obstacles, but we conquered them because we all had the same goal – we want this play to be a success”.
Ngesi promises the audience a spectacular performance.
Theatre producer Nobesuthu Rayi says the Opera House is the first theatre outside Johannesburg to be chosen by the National Arts Council to stage a play of this calibre.
A second play commissioned by the council, Whispering Shadows, is to be staged next year.
Actress and author Nakedi Ribane, council arts development officer Peter Tshabalala and council official Pascar Dube will be present at the opening night as panelists.
As part of the build-up to With My Own Blood, the Opera House took the cast to the ACVV Huis Genot retirement complex in Algoa Park for dress rehearsals.
Opera House ambassador Chuma Tokota said: “The visit to the home will not be our last venture when looking to outreach programmes… We plan to include schools, churches, correctional services facilities and more centres for the aged.”
Manager of ACVV Huis Genot Sarel Broodryk said: “Bringing the cast here was an incredible idea.”
Home resident Lucy Kannstaetter, 73, said she enjoyed the show, especially the music, so much that she was dancing to some songs.
“It was very good acting – these young people are very talented.”
Kannstaetter wished more of this kind of entertainment could be brought to residents.
The show will also be staged at The Barn at 2pm and 7pm on Saturday.