Itoyi-toyi Cast & Crew Ready for Grahamstown Arts Festival

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Itoyi-toyi Cast & Crew Ready for Grahamstown Arts Festival

Itoyi-toyi Cast & Crew Ready for Grahamstown Arts Festival

The Department of Creative Arts team has its ducks in a row and is awaiting its moment to act out its showstopper play at the annual Grahamstown National Arts Festival (NAF), taking place in Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown), Eastern Cape.

The NAF began on Thursday, 27 June and is one of the largest art events in the South African calendar. It features international work as well as a variety of brand new work from South Africa’s top talent.

The Creative Arts team will depart from KwaDlangezwa on Sunday morning. The group consists of 28 students and six staff members who are eager to stage their play “Itoyi-toyi (the march): The story of a dance that got tired – Zize Zibuye Emasisweni”, from Wednesday to Saturday, 3- 6 July.

According to Masedi Manenye, Dance Lecturer in the Creative Arts Department and Director of Itoyi-toyi, the theme and concept of the play is inspired by the history and current state of South African politics.

“The production that we are taking to the festival is called Itoyi toyi, a story of a dance that got tired. We took the dance Itoyi toyi and turned it into a person and asked ourselves the question ‘What if the dance now is tired, because it has been used (over and over)?’.

“It has been used before democracy and even now in democracy, whereby whenever something is not going right, people take it to the streets. Whether it’s service delivery, free education or any other social problem that angers people,” said Manenye.

He added that the interesting aspect of the play is that it challenges South Africans to think of alternative ways of resolving problems or expressing unhappiness towards a situation, rather than marching.

Assistant Director Mbuyiselo Mlaba shared Manenye’s view, adding that he is confident the audience will benefit immensely from their performance as it is not only an entertainment showpiece, but, most importantly, an educative piece.

“We decided to go for a political theme because everyone can relate to it. The play is very educative. The audience will surely learn a lot from it because the message is very unique. Itoyi toyi touches on the culture, various parts and agendas of the country’s politics and many other interesting aspects,” he said.

Gift Marovatsanga, Acting Head of the Department of Creative Arts, believes that the University’s involvement in the festival is a big opportunity specifically for students as it will help them engage with other students and various seasoned practitioners in the creative industry.

He promised to stage the play for the University community upon the team’s return from the festival.

Speaking on behalf of students, Busisiwe Mabaso, who is one of the lead performers, said the whole team felt honoured to have been chosen to represent the institution on such a huge platform.

Samkele Sokhela



Itoyi toyi production cast during a rehearsal ahead of attending the much-anticipated Grahamstown National Arts Festival.

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