SCENE IT: IMBILINI... MY FRIEND! reveals the power of friendship in the fight against prejudice

Barbara Loots

 

IMBILINI… MY FRIEND! currently onstage at the Baxter Theatre, is a stimulating new play that presents itself as an ode to the protective space of friendship amid society’s distorted and unjust beliefs about albinism.

Sometimes being ‘lucky’ can be the unluckiest reality. IMBILINI… MY FRIEND! addresses this from the perspective of albinism.

As director Mdu Kweyama notes, it is not often that a director gets to work on a project that brings a true story to stage, as performed by the actual characters. But that privilege does not stop with him, it is also a privilege extended to every audience member that goes to witness this sincere piece of theatre.

The impact of this two-hander is elevated by the fact that it reveals the characters, Mgele (Bulelani Mabutyana) and Jali (Siphenathi Mayekiso), to the audience through the everyday trials they face. In doing so, the play addresses society’s misconception of people with albinism and how that can test the bonds of friendship, but doesn’t focus on this in the abstract. This is not an academic dramatisation exercise, it’s a human interest piece: It examines the prejudice associated with albinism by viewing it through the lens of the issue the two characters’ grapple with, such as poverty, alcoholism, and family dynamics in the context of their urban lifestyle.


The message this production brings to the fore in a most empowering manner is that persons with albinism deserve to have their right to life and security protected. They are not anyone’s lucky charm: they should not be made to ask or pay for that which is intrinsically owed to them as part of their human dignity. Like anyone else, people with albinism feel and dream and want to live their lives to the fullest without fear of persecution. The fight for true acceptance pulses throughout IMBILINI… MY FRIEND! as the actors bare their souls on stage.


What makes this truth all the more impactful is that the play doesn’t try to build up to overplayed big moments, but leans into the smaller, emotionally fragile spaces of humanity that is a combination of heart and hurt. The charismatic performances ultimately come together in a collection of spoken word, physical theatre, dance, and song.


IMBILINI…MY FRIEND!, written and performed by Bulelani Mabutyana, along with Siphenathi Mayekiso, directed by the award-winning Mdu Kweyama, is onstage at the Baxter Theatre’s Golden Arrow Studio until 25 June 2022. Tickets are available online via Webtickets.