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PRESS: IMBILINl...MY FRIEND! and intriguing new play debuts at the Baxter this June

Baxter Theatre


Imbilini…my friend!, an intriguing new South African play about deep friendship amidst prejudice, debuts at The Baxter in June.

Imbilini…my friend!, a brand new South African play, written and performed by Bulelani Mabutyana, along with Siphenathi Mayekiso, directed by the award-winning Mdu Kweyama, makes its debut at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, from 9 to 25 June 2022, at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Powerful, potent and funny, the physical theatre two-hander explores trust, empathy and that of being the other. A deep and profound friendship is put to the test between two young men who must grapple with issues of poverty, alcoholism, prejudice, society’s beliefs about albinism and the harshness of urban life, all which pose challenges to the bond between the two.

The play was selected from a cohort of 10 creatives who attended The Baxter Masambe Playlab, a four-month long, writing residency which was held at the Baxter last year and which offered writers time, space, peer-to-peer mentoring and financial resources to create new work, as part of the Baxter’s Platform for Special Talent programme.

Developed and mentored under the guidance of revered writer and director Lara Foot, Mabutyana and Mayekiso wrote Imbilini as an ode to their friendship, one of protectiveness amid society’s warped beliefs about albinism. They navigate Mayekiso’s daily lived experience of albinism in a society that simply knows too little about the condition and how alcohol becomes a crutch to deal with the hardships faced by young men in South Africa. Mabutyana is protective of his friend and concerned for his safety.

The duo is directed by Mdu Kweyama (Shadow Boxing, The Goat, or who is Sylvia?, Reza de Wet’s Missing), who is the curator and artistic director of the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival. Kweyama recently directed Shadow Boxing which has received high praise from audiences and critics. He was awarded the Naledi award for Best Actor in a Lead Role and Best Original Choreography for Karoo Moose in 2008. He is a Fleur du Cap Best New Director winner, and in 2013 he won the best director award at the Setkani Festival in the Czech Republic for his adaptation of Mike van Graan’s Brothers in Blood.

Bulelani Mabutyana, a theatre graduate from Magnet Theatre, is a former recipient of the ICA’s emerging directors’ programme. He has appeared in the adaptation of Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness directed by Mark Fleishman and in Brink Scholtz’s Running away with Gold Fish. Earlier this year, Mabutyana joined the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival team as coordinator to assist with mentoring productions at the festival and continues to assist in developing young theatre makers. He is a former Baxter Best of Zabalaza winner for his production of Worst of Both Worldswhich has been published as a playscript.

Siphenati Mayekiso is also a graduate of the Magnet Theatre training programme. In 2013 he joined the Garage Dance Company in Okiep under the tutelage of Alfred Hinkel. As a freelance performer he has done puppetry work for UNIMA South Africa and facilitated workshops for Magnet Theatre’s Culture Gangs Project. He has acted as a stage manager for various productions and appeared in the short film Nommer 27, which won two awards in the Kyknet Silwerskerm. In 2021 he performed in Trapped, a brand-new work by Unmute Dance Company which challenged the ‘trapped mentality’ that society uses to stereotype persons living with disability.

In 2017 The Baxter launched an innovative playwriting residency, a laboratory space for new writers to create and develop new plays under the guidance of a dramaturg with the goal of developing a fullDal-length play. It was within this space that Imbilini … my friend! was chosen to be developed and mentored by Baxter CEO and artistic director, Lara Foot.

Imbilini…my friend! runs at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 9 to 25 June 2022 at 7.30pm nightly, with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. There is an age restriction of 13 years.

Booking for Imbilini … my friend! is through Webtickets online or at Pick n Pay stores. For discounted block or schools’ bookings, charities or fundraisers contact Carmen Kearns on email or call 021 680 3993 or Nontsikilelo.


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