Witsies showcase their play on the highly coveted virtual National Arts Festival’s stage
Tea for Two is a deeply personal interrogation of the complexities of understanding your identity as a young adult.
The surrealist play, which was created by two Wits graduates, Nqobile Natasia and Reatlilwe Maroga was performed at the virtual National Arts Festival at the end of July.
“As passionate creators, we have poured our hearts and souls into this production,” said Maroga, as she was explaining their feeling of elation on being accepted into the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.
Meanwhile, Natasie, who is now feeling a lot more confident in their work said, “It was a tough journey [to get in], but extremely exciting”.
The 35-minute play follows the protagonist, Zion – played by final year dramatic art student Mmangaliso Ngobese. She is a young professional, who finds comfort in their strict routines and self-imposed rigidity. However, Zion falls asleep one day, only to wake up in a deliberately confusing dream world – their own mind.
Here, they encounter a character known as The Voice – played by second-year dramatic arts student Sazikazi Bula – who seemingly looks like Zion. Together, they navigate through and make sense of this confusing “messy mind maze,” by confronting Zion’s deepest thoughts, emotions, and identities, said Natasia.
According to Forum Theatre, surrealism is a style of performance “characterised by its use of unexpected, often illogical, scenarios or images to create a dream-like atmosphere on stage.”
Natasia said that they chose to use surrealism because it allowed them to visually put the audience in the protagonist’s head space; with much of the open-endedness left on the viewers to make their own conclusions. The most positive feedback I got from people is they resonate with the play, explained Natasia.
The themes of the play are self-introspection and identity, focusing on the complex and often confusing journey of self-discovery in your own chaotic minds.
Natasia said that everything on stage was “modelled after my brain – with all the chaos and absurdity.”
The set, which represented Zion’s mind showed this chaos. There was a yellow bench in the front of the set, signs reading “Messy Mind Maze” and “Teens” with tin cans scattered on the floor. Most notably were the red threads intertwined, which Maroga said they were symbolising the brain; and like the mind, “everything is connected”.
“This play tells us that we are not alone…as messy as (our) minds can be, we can work through it” continued Maroga.
The lead actor, Ngobese said: “You realise that (like most of us) [Zion] is someone who suffocates themself in their mind all the time… as humans we bottle things up for ourselves and we are unaware of the damage we do to ourselves”.
Overall, it is a powerful play which leaves the audience wondering how they have dealt and will deal with their own struggles with identity as they resonate with the piece.
FEATURED IMAGE: The poster of Tea for Two advertising their appearance on the virtual National Arts Festival. Image: Supplied
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