Port Elizabeth. 18 October
The company's activities in South Africa have been overshadowed by the murder of Mbongeni 'Skimmie' Siwa. Skimmie had been working closely with us and was too join us in England in February to run workshops during the tour of 'At Break of Day' and 'Macbeth'. He was stabbed to death on the streets of New Brighton on 5th September. Skimmie was one of the first people we met when we came to Port Elizabeth and on our first evening we sang and danced with him and his colleagues in Rise and Shine well into the night. It is an evening none of us who were there will ever forget and our memories are made all the more poignant by his cruel and senseless death. The funeral was in Red Location, New Brighton at his home and then at the Dutch Reformed Church in Pendla Street. An obituary was read by Looks Matoto to vocal accompaniment by Tambora. Luke Dixon represented the company at the funeral.
Mbongeni 'Skimmie' Siwa was born on 12 September 1975 at Red Location, New Brighton. He started his early education at Jarvis Gqamlana and proceeded to Stephen Mazungula for his higher primary education. His high school education he did at Thamsanqa High School. It is while at Thamsanqa High School that he took a keen interest in acting. It is when he was doing his standard ten that his group (PEYT) Port Elizabeth Youth Theatre was invited to the Stramash Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. His director Winston Ntoshona confessed that, 'Skimmie was the most loved actor in the entire festival. He was a shining start, a role model, an inspiration in his struggling neighbourhood.' He was a live wire in PEYT.
After High school he teamed up with other talented artists and they formed Rise and Shine Theatre productions led by Looks Matoto. He again made his mark and established himself as a great dancer. He then became the dance director of Rise and Shine. He also has begun touching the lives of many rural areas through his dance workshops which he was commissioned by the Western District Council as an Auxiliary Worker.
Death strikes him when he was about to spread his wings over to London and empower European youth with his African dance skills. This trip that he was about to embark on to Europe was as a result of a partnership between Rise and Shine and theatre nomad led by Dr. Luke Dixon. Because of this tragedy, he could not fulfill this mission. He is sadly missed by Rise and Shine.
In Memory of Skimmie
Skimmie we nearly lost you
Beside the road way a
You survived the tragic car
You were a dance lunatic
AT BREAK OF DAY and MACBETH in South Africa
Noel Greig brought the first draft of his new play to Port Elizabeth in September and was later joined by Hannah Buvik and Jean Pagni. A wide variety of workshops were held on the text with performers from South Africa and Senegal joining us. We also began rehearsals on 'Macbeth' with Jean and Hannah drumming themselves into trance under the African sun.
The work on 'Macbeth' extended to workshops in Itembelihle and Iwandlekozi High Schools where we were able to perform scenes from the play in both English and Xhosa. Viyani Soga, who translated the witches and the porter's scenes into Xhosa (the first time the play has been so translated) played a very drunken porter.
The workshop in Itembelihle Schools culminated in nearly a hundred young people as Xhosa speaking witches confronting Jean and Hannah as Macbeth and Banquo.