Q&A with Thando Mangcu

Thando Mangcu is currently in Edinburgh on an exciting tour for acclaimed play The Fall. The play, which Thando co-wrote with the rest of the cast, has recently been published by Junkets Publishers. She has also just finished up co-writing and directing the pay Pieces, which featured in the first Theatre Arts Admin Emerging Directors’ Bursary, which she won alongside Nwabisa Plaatjie. A busy girl, Thando was also  recently in The Underground Library. We caught up with Thando about all of her exciting endevours.

Q1: How are you finding travelling for The Fall? 
I was born in New York and would often travel to South Africa to visit my extended family in the Eastern Cape before I moved to Johannesburg permanently. I have also been to India and France.

I especially love travelling for The Fall because it is within a major festival alongside highly experienced actors and I feel like I am tapping into the side of theatre that Clare Stopford calls a ‘Marathon’. I am really enjoying the energy – I feel an excitement and wanderlust resulting from the beauty of the city and the many shows that will arrive here from all around the world. There will be many other forms of performance taking place here, including technologically innovative interactive theatre, music shows as well as symposiums.

Q2: How have you found the responses from non-South African audiences? Do you think they understand the context and what is different from SA and British audiences?
We have not performed the play yet, although what we have found in the festival program is that there are quite a few plays that share the subject matter or themes in The Fall about intersectionality, feminism and cultural identity. It would be interesting to watch those plays and see how they compare to The Fall‘s conversation.

Even though the contexts are different, I do think the content and themes of The Fal will be understood. The play raises universal issues on racism, patriarchy and, of course, the accessibility of quality education and the elitism entrenched in colonial culture.

Q3:Tell me more about Pieces. What is it about and what were you aiming to achieve with it?
Pieces is an absurdist play workshopped by the cast that I facilitated and then curated into a play. My main goal with Pieces was to collaborate with womxn of colour and to use my opportunity at the TAAC to the fullest by creating something new and different. The main theme in the workshop sessions was patriarchy and how it affects us as womxn of colour. The play unfolds at a dinner table in the middle of nowhere. The question is, do we leave the dinner table or do we continue in the cycle of oppression?

Q4: What drew to The Underground Library

I auditioned for the role of Khanya because not only did the brief illustrate Jon Keevy’s main interest in physical theatre and comic book in the writing of the play, but the subject matter was interesting: that of a dystopian future where information is limited to technological means only. It was also an opportunity for me to work with Koleka Putuma whose work I have admired.

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