Kraal of Dreams : Gloss

Kraal of Dreams

Since my inception (at the university) my motive for being an artist has always been a socio-political one — it was not to be a super star in television soapies, or to be famous, but to go back to my community and use creative arts as a transformative tool for the people. This seed was planted long before my professional encounter with theatre and my formal training; it was planted in high school arts and cultural activities where the use of arts was simple: for the mobilization, conscientization, and politicization of the students and the community at large. After my graduation, and after three years of acting training based on an individual approach, I resuscitated that original driving motive of theatre.

I was first reminded of what is art in society and what is society in art, what is its purpose and the aesthetic that supports that purpose. I then imagined myself in the past: a couple of decades ago, just graduated from various life experiences, formalized and informal institutions, from interactions of various philosophies and pedagogues of creatives arts and theatre, all mixed up with the fast beating heart of cultural aesthetics that is subconsciously embedded deep in my African being and can only be accessed by metaphors and in fragmentation of incidence, representations, and presentations.

These are the stories from my grandmother and mother, these are my poems, metaphors and idioms from my father, they are the smells, and tastes that remind me of home, and their absence in any form of engagement stimulates homesickness. I need them to understand my world.

About the Author

Writer, director, teacher, curator, and artist Mandla Mbothwe is a lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Drama Department, co-Artistic Director of Magnet Theatre, and the Founder and Director of Mud and Fire Narrative and Mbothwe and Doni Collectives. He has served as Artistic Director of the Steve Biko Centre in King Williamstown and Creative Manager for the Artscape Theatre Centre. Mbothwe has worked both locally and internationally, with more recent projects including Biko’s Quest (2014) for the Artscape Heritage Festival, which later toured the Netherlands and United Kingdom; Artscape Theatre’s Easter Spiritual Arts Festival (2015); Robben Island Bible (2016); Oratorio of the Forgotten Youth (2016) with artists Thembi Mtshali, Mandla Mlangeni, Bo Peterson, Koleka Putuma; and 1976 Spirits (2016), a piece celebrating youth courage and resilience through mass dance and physical interpretation. He holds a MA in Theatre and Performance from University of Cape Town.