DUT Drama students meet Bollywood
Ntombifuthi Mhlongo & Wongalethu Maquthu
After rehearsing tirelessly for over a month the final year Drama students from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) have been given the green light to perform.
Titled Consenting Silence, the play was written and directed by Verne Rowin Munsamy and it explores forms of gender-based violence and is a stand against gender-based violence through a Bollywood production. “Like any Bollywood story there’s a love triangle in it and is based on an actual rape that took place in 2013 in India. A young woman by the name of Damini was gang raped in a bus and no one stopped to help her,” said Verne.
The Drama department recently introduced Indian theatre into their syllabus and these aspiring thespians will be performing a Bollywood play for the first time. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to direct the show so that my students could get an experience of what Bollywood is all about and although it’s not a film version we get to experience it on our stage,” added Verne.
Stage manager and actress in the play, Anelisiwe Mkosana, said the play challenges gender-based violence. She says such things happen in our communities.
“People are abused and they go missing and people in the community decide to remain silent,” she said.
She further went on to say that it’s boys they trust as girls that turn on them. The play also addresses certain traditions that protect perpetrators. One of those traditions is that the woman must marry her rapist because the woman and her family have been shamed.
“Our elders are more afraid of shame and embarrassment than they are of violence,” said one of the characters in the play.
Anelisiwe also noted that there are fun times in the play.
“Not everything in life is sad,” she mentioned.
Zandi Hanxa who plays the lead role said she thinks it’s the best time to address gender-based violence in any way possible.
“We are touching on one of the biggest issues that the whole world is talking about,” said Zandi.
With Covid-19 regulations to follow like social distancing and wearing masks preparing for this play was challenging for the actors and actresses. “It was not easy, firstly you can’t see my facial expression and I can’t project myself properly because I had to wear a mask. However, I’m excited about being back on stage and giving the people what they want,” said Thando Ntshulana, who plays the character Prema in the play.
Njabulo Mashinini, who plays the character Ajith, said gender-based violence is a catastrophe and a disaster. Ajith is the guy who rapes Damini in the play.
“The character I play comes from a rich family. However, he is not connected to his family, hence he is void and full of hate. This makes him oppressive,” elaborated Njabulo.
The stage manager, Anelisiwe, said people got injured during rehearsals – and she was not lying. This was very apparent in the interview with Zandi.
“It took us a while to learn the Indian accent, but Verne was patient with us,” said Anelisiwe.
The show took place on Monday and Tuesday at Ritson Campus courtyard theatre.
*The show had two casts (Yellow and Blue cast) – the cast that was interviewed for this article was the Yellow cast.