In Association with Live Theatre, Swallows Foundation UK and Isiseko Senkonjane

Winner of Best Performance of 2014 at the Journal Culture Awards

Winner of a Standard Bank Ovation award for Innovation and Excellence on the Fringe, at the National Arts Festival of South Africa in Grahamstown 2013.

Mamela (meaning ‘listen’ in isiXhosa) is a piece of verbatim theatre that tells the true stories of young women from the Eastern Cape.  This project has seen artists from the UK and South Africa embarking on an exciting collaboration that fuses new writing with traditional African song, dance and storytelling. Mamela has recently toured the UK as part of Afrovibes festival, selling out at Stratford Circus and Live Thearte. The cast worked with groups of young people and women in each of the communities they visited. Thanks to all those who have been involved.


Afrovibes is a multidisciplinary biennial festival connecting the arts and culture from South Africa with the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Afrovibes encourages participation, debate, and the sharing of ideas between artists and audiences, as well as developing new commissions, exchanges and residencies involving UK and South African artists. Nine editions of Afrovibes have been staged across Europe with two in the UK.

Developed over three years of research, workshops and interviews, the production tells of the experiences, opinions and aspirations of the participants, some born at the end of the Apartheid era and others representing the “Born Free” generation of democratic South Africa. Their stories are a mixture of moving personal testimonies about their lives, reflections on religion, politics and men, culminating in the ultimately uplifting dreams for both themselves and their country.  These stories are framed by traditional dances and songs that complement the narrative strands of the piece.

The Mamela project was first developed in the Eastern Cape in January 2011, through a series of workshops meeting young women aged 16-30 from all over the province. 9 young women were cast from 100s of participants. The cast came together for the first time during a week-long residency and workshops at The Barn Theatre at The Opera House in Port Elizabeth.

We are grateful to Live Theatre, Isieseko Senkonjane and the Swallows Foundation UK for supporting the project through the development phase.

Verbatim theatre is a form of documentary theatre in which the testimonies of the participants are faithfully recorded, collated and reproduced to tell their real life stories in a dramatic way. The recordings are edited to form a play that is rehearsed and performed either by the participants themselves or other actors. The aim is to recreate the first time the words were spoken so that, although now in the context of a bigger narrative structure, they retain the freshness and vitality of the first time they were spoken. Verbatim Theatre also combines the immediacy of real life experience with other forms of theatrical expression (song, movement, dance for instance) to portray the world of the play and the lives of its characters. eloped since then and a drafting process is now underway.

Click here to see a film of the cast in development week June 2012 in Grahamstown SA, The Making of Mamela

























The Cast

Carol Ann Stanley: 24, from Port Elizabeth. Member of international hip-hop dance collective Déjà vu. Played by Andiswa Mptisha, founding member and vocalist in a cappella band Amandla Esandla, from Port Elizabeth.

Sinovuyo Mvandaba: 25, Community Outreach artist working in Mthata. Played by Lungelwa Magqamfana, 29, actress from Port Elizabeth.

Zimasa Nyamende: 20, School student from Maluti, Matatiele. Now living and studying in Cape Town.

Sinazo Cakucaku: 23, Actress from Port Elizabeth.

Caroline King: 21, graduate journalist, Grahamstown. now working as a nanny in Germany.  Played by Bronwyn Elliott, actress from South Africa now based in London.

Lisa Maholo: 23, Graduate from Rhodes University and performance poet from Grahamstown.

Lucia Ludick: 22, Mother and part-time student from Graaf- Reinet

Nandipha Mtikitiki: 34, singer/actress from Mdantsane, East London

I have developed so much already through this process….. I think the play will be strong, the script is something special for each and every one of us. For some of us this will be our first time at a big festival in the main event with professionals, it will be great! Sinovuyo Mvandaya, Mthata

The Team

Gez Casey: Writer

Gez Casey is an actor, playwright and Literary Manager at Live Theatre in Newcastle. He teaches playwriting courses and runs the writers development programme at Live Theatre. He has recently co-written, an online course and resources for aspiring playwrights. His scripts for Live Theatre includes A Very Irish Coup, a one man show about horse racing, and most recently Up There In Lights, a musical and From Home To Newcastle. He has written or co-written over 20 plays and worked in reminiscence theatre, oral history, verbatim theatre and youth theatre. He was an advisor for the Student Drama Festival at the 2012 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. He also teaches at Northumbria University.

Ziphozakhe Hlobo: Writer

Ziphozakhe Hlobo is a graduate in BA (Media, communication and culture) from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, streaming in Print. She is a Freelance Writer and has written for Live Theatre, Artists Striving to End Poverty (U.S) and Word Festival in Grahamstown. She is a performance poet and has recently performed at the Word Festival in Grahamstown. She was also dramaturg on ‘Two Women Two Worlds’ at the 2011 Festival.

Amy Golding: Director

Amy Golding graduated from Northumbria University in 2003, where she achieved a first class degree in Drama. She specialised in directing and currently works as Artistic Director at Theatre Auracaria. Amy spent 7 years working at Live Theatre where she directed various productions including the acclaimed ‘Playing With My Heart’ and ‘Here Come The Girls’.  She co-directed the first production of ‘The Promise’, developed during a residency of Eastern Cape artists in the UK, which went on to play at Grahamstown in 2010.

Zamuxolo Mgoduka: Choreographer

Zamuxolo Mgoduka is the artistic director of Uphondo Lwe Afrika who have performed many times at the National Arts Festival. They have also recently performed on Broadway New York and, in the UK, in Newcastle, London, Wales and the Isle of Man. Zamuxolo was involved in Mamela in the early stages of development.