The voice of the “Black Gal”, Ntsiki Mazwai brings her powerful poetry in a one-woman play to life at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival this year. The play will premiere on the 30 June and run until 9 July at Glennie Fest Centre.
Having the opportunity to sit in one of her rehearsals and get a one-on-one interview with Mazwai, she shared her passion for arts and the drive and challenges that came with putting the play together. The inspiration of the play is the different aspects and challenges black girls face and their journeys throughout life. “Black girls are coming of age and they are starting to use their voices”, says Mazwai, one of the reasons she chose ‘black gals’ as a theme for her play. She expressed her dislike towards how a black woman’s future relies on a man and being taken care of. “I can use my art and my stage to ensure that the black gal is emancipated.”
Another aspect is the dynamic of the absent parent. “We need to make sure that women are fully empowered because at the end of the day women are the ones who make a change”. Placing herself in the Grahamstown environment and gaining the peoples trust with her big personality was one of Mazwai’s biggest challenges. Another obstacle she had to overcome was the original director leaving the production, finding a new director a week before the festival and having to expose herself again. Regardless of the challenges Mazwai remains enthusiastic and positively stated that, “if a moment is meant to happen, nothing can stop it and the universe conspires for it to happen”.
The production of the play has placed a lot on her mind, body and spiritual self. She had to adjust her lifestyle, be in exclusion and stay healthy in order to be in a pure and concentrated energy space. “When you do art, you are working with God and you need to humble yourself”, says Mazwai. Positivity became her mantra. “With a big project you can self-sabotage yourself with your fears”.
Being in Grahamstown played an important role during the production of the play. Having to witness the generation with natural hair and African aesthetics owning their heritage fuelled her drive for the play. “Being in Grahamstown, the beauty of black gals is in my face. Then came the #RUReferenceList and black gals were in my ears”, said Mazwai, “Black gals had their hands on their hips waiting to talk”.
Being the voice for Black Gals, Ntsiki knows that there are girls who cannot afford to purchase tickets to the show. She launched a “Take a Black Gal to the theatre” campaign which encourages people to donate tickets for the 2nd July show. The details are available here.
“People should expect to be moved, to have a cathartic experience, to laugh and to cry”, Mazwai says. One of the things she loves about herself is that her gift more than the art is her big spirit. People should expect to go on a rollercoaster with a personal driver, and that driver is Ntsiki Mazwai.
Photo Sourced from www.youthvillage.co.za