Identical twins bring play to the Playhouse

Musawenkosi and Bongumusa Shabalala bring their stage play to the Playhouse.

IZIPOPOLO (which means ‘binoculars’ in isiZulu) is part of the Playhouse Company’s annual New Stages festival.

The Play follows the journey of identical twin brothers Thabo and Thabani (actual names Musawenkosi and Bongumusa Shabalala) from the moment they first meet in their mother’s womb, through to their difficult adolescence and coming of age in KwaMashu, near Durban.

The play explores what happens when one of the brothers decides to forge an identity separate from the other, and whether or not it is possible for each to exist and function in isolation.

Speaking to the Berea Mail, the twins said it had been their dream to become performing artists. “Having no real opportunities around the township forced us to stand up, focus and do it for ourselves.”

“Our journey into theatre was a very tough on. When we started doing it in high school things were upside down, we had just lost our mother but out of all that darkness we strived for what we needed. After high school, having attended theatre workshops in the community which were so helpful, we got a learnership programme which we attended for a year studying Directing for theatre… where we were trained by directors like Jerry Pooe, Jerry Mofokeng, Boyzie Cekwane and others,” Bongumusa said.

The twins say growing up they were not that naughty because their parents were very strict. “However, when we were in primary school we had that moment when the teachers did not know which one is which, so we used to swap classes and they would not notice!”

Izipopolo is a collaboration between multi-award winning theatre-maker and director Neil Coppen. Izipopolo offers a fascinating glimpse into the intertwined identities of twin siblings and how society around them grapples to comprehend and make sense of this unusual phenomenon. Most of all, the play explores the unshakable and often complex bond that exists between brothers.

“People can expect a very moving piece of theatre, strong storytelling, powerful acting…something they have never seen before…the story is not only about twins but about loss, love and hope. So people must expect to get out of that theatre with lots and lots of love and hope,” Musawenkosi said.

The Shabalala brothers are currently busy with their next production which will premiere at the national arts festival this year called Daffi Falls which talks about the life and times of the late President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya….a very controversial story and also powerful.

Izipopolo runs from 12 to 14 May at The Playhouse Loft Theatre. Booking via Computicket outlets nationwide, and tickets can also be obtained from the Playhouse Box Office on (031) 369 9540/9596 for R65. Discounted parking is available at the Royal Hotel parkade or at the Albany Grove parkade.

Rudy Nkgadima

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