Performance Studies and Dramatic Writing lecturer Makhaola Siyanda Ndebele’s two productions have been nominated for a score of awards at the Naledi Theatre Awards.  

Ndebele directed two of the plays, Lepatata and Colour Me Human, which have garnered six and five nominations respectively. He received a Best Director of a Play nomination for Lepatata, as was Greg Homann, another Wits academic, for A Voice I Cannot Silence, a production that received eight nominations. The nominees were announced early this week.

Lepatata, written by Moagi Modise, premiered at the Market Theatre in August last year and is the first fully seTswana production to be staged at the theatre. The play tells the story of the Batlhaping and Khoikhoi/Boer battle for land in Kimberley. Ndebele says this production was close to his heart because of the politics of family and language that it presents.
“It’s good that the work is being recognised. Especially with the seTswana play, Lepatata. It was a really great experience making it,” says Ndebele.

On making Lepatata Ndebele says, “It was an amazing experience. We just clicked as a group. It was something more than ourselves kind of situation where we felt a strong bond. The Market [theatre] invested in the research.” For Ndebele, rigorously researching the play was important because “it’s important to do work in our own languages” with the same intensity as theatre that is done in English.

Ndebele connected with Colour Me Human, a musical written by renowned musician Steve Dyer, because “it’s an experience of celebrating humanity, so I am pro that”. The Naledi Theatre awards were created in 2005 in an effort to recognise and reward excellence in the performing arts sector. The awards recognise plays produced in the previous year. Ndebele says he recognises the importance of awards but doesn’t create art with awards in mind. “I understand their significance … but with art it’s hard to say which is ‘the best’ and which is not ‘the best’,” he says.