Acclaimed local play at Barn

Xolisa Ngubelanga wrote and stars in ‘Flamebook’ this week at the Port Elizabeth Opera House

Nelson Mandela Bay writer Xolisa Ngubelanga and director Simphiwe Kaya are opening Ngubelanga’s award-winning play Flamebook at the PE Opera House tomorrow night.

The one-man show, which also features Ngubelanga, will be at the Barn Theatre and is the story of a student leader detained during the #FeesMustFall movement.

While detained, the student uses fire as a way to connect the trials of the #FeesMustFall movement with those of his father who was detained during the apartheid regime.

“He recalls how fire has always been a part of protesting and traces how anti-apartheid protesters were criminalised back then and the same treatment was executed on #FeesMustFall protesters recently,” Ngubelanga said.

The playwright said the play also made reference to an incident in 1977 when the Port Elizabeth City Hall was mysteriously burned after the arrest of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.

“I’m bringing to the fore the incidents that were informed by the Black Consciousness movement that happened around that time and I’m drawing similarities through fire,” he said.

Ngubelanga and Kaya took Flamebook to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July where it won a Standard Bank Ovation Award, voted for by a national panel of theatre critics.

“More than anything, the award was encouraging for me. It was more of an affirmative achievement because, as artists, we’re constantly trying to find a voice. So this, for me, was confirmation that my voice has a place in the industry,” Ngubelanga said.

He holds a national diploma in performing arts from Stageworld Theatre College and has had his work published in Nigerian poetry anthology Poets In Nigeria and UK online publication NoiseMedium.

Earlier this year, the writer, performer and facilitator headlined at the BlantFire Slam Poetry Festival in Malawi, alongside world-renowned Bahamian poet Obedia Smith.

Flamebook forms a part of this month’s Drama Seasons at the Opera House.

The performances start at 7pm from tomorrow until Saturday. There will be a 2pm matinee on Saturday.

Ticket prices range from R50 to R150 and will be on sale at the door.

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