Theatre Duo selected to international youth festival.

A Place of Knowing, a play which premiered at the Emakhaya Theatre in Braamfontein last year has been selected for the International Youth Arts Festival (IYAF) which takes place in London, United Kingdom, on July 6-12.

Directed by Billy Langa and Mahlatsi Mokgonyana, A Place of Knowing, is a real-life intimate account of past traumas and the process of healing of each of the performers in the play. The play also focuses on how parent-child relationships shape an individual’s life.

Mokgonyana said that the duo had known about the London festival, which caters for performers under 27 years of age, for three years and but had waited until they had right content to apply.

“A Place of Knowing happened and we decided to apply because the work is relevant to the festival and it speaks directly to the struggles of being young,” Mokgonyana said.

The co-director said that although the play was centred around the impact that parents have on their children’s lives, the main theme was healing.

“Using stories as a way of healing from our personal stories, sharing our stories, having the courage to tell your own story allows you to move from being a victim to a victor,” Mokgonyana told Wits Vuvuzela.

The play’s premiere at the Wits Drama for Life (DfL) Emakhaya Theatre ensured the play attracted the right audience as the issues central to the play are often tackled by DfL.

Benjamin Bell, former Emakhaya Theatre manager told Wits Vuvuzela that the theatre has a long history with the directing duo as they have been involved in several festivals and conferences hosted by DfL.

“Somehow they align with our ethos of a deep belief in democracy, a deep belief in the collective theatre-making approach which is linked to democratic practice. A belief in telling marginalised stories; treating them with humility and respect,” Bell said.

One of the performers in A Place of Knowing, Thuto Gaasenwe, who tells the story of her relationship with her own mother, told Wits Vuvuzela that having the opportunity to go to the IYAF was “humbling, overwhelming and exciting”.

“I never thought that our stories would be on such a platform. We worked under the banner, ‘Your stories are valid’, and what better way to validate our stories than through telling them. [IYAF] will be the first time performing to our peers, it’s a beautiful story to experience,” Gaasenwe said.

The IYAF features theatre, dance, comedy, music, visual arts, spoken word, carnival and circus performances.

FEATURED IMAGE: Ntumekelelo Siyeyphu (centre), tells her story during the A Place of Knowing performance at the Emakhaya Theatre. Photo: Provided