‘Itsoseng’ Schools Setworks Festival at Joburg Theatres

The collaborated schools setworks festival will take place at Joburg Theatre from April 23 to 5 May 2019. The festival offering is Itsoseng which will run concurrently with Sophiatown.

Itsoseng is a gripping story of a man whose hope of a new life is crushed with the realities of a corrupt system. A one man play that covers the period from the early 1990s to 2008.

The township, Itsoseng was part of the Bophuthatswana homeland, led by Lucas Mangope and set up by the apartheid government. During the 1980s, Itsoseng township enjoyed the fruits of Mangope’s regime, never knowing how these fruits had been harvested. Eventually the people became aware of Mangope’s tyrannical antics of leadership. His government was run by his family and important posts were occupied by his trusted friends. Bophuthatswana became a military state. As the election day for South Africa’s new democracy approached the Bophuthatswana regime found itself being overthrown by the people. They believed that Mangope was a tyrant.

That was when the people of Itsoseng, as part of Bophuthatswana, destroyed all the properties that were built by Mangope in Itsoseng during his reign. Everything got burnt down to the ground, including their one and only much-loved shopping center, with its cinema, grocery stores, restaurants and shops, the only thing that was the township’s economic foundation.

The people of Itsoseng lived through this time hoping for the benefits of the new democracy. They sat by and watched with hope as all the other destroyed places in Bophuthatswana, now North West were reconstructed. Now, after more than ten years of democracy, it seems like luck has run out on their side and hopes have faded.

Today, even though the name has now changed from Bophuthatswana to North West Province, Itsoseng is still feeling the wounds of the 1994 riots. The new struggle of the township is economy, just like in all the other townships throughout the country. Here promised revolutions and dreams of freedom exploit the poor with the bridle of hope.



Itsoseng explores the themes of:

Life in the township

Itsoseng gives its audience a first-hand account of life in a South African township – a life that Mawilla describes at one point as an endless cycle of going to funerals and taverns. The main settings mentioned are the park (where the children learn to fight and, where later, the disgruntled comrades hang out and smoke marijuana), the taxi rank (where Mawilla’s mother sells her vegetables), the school, the streets, the houses, and the taverns. Of course, life (and a sense of vigor and vitality) is precisely what is missing – and the play explores how the burning down of the shopping complex, among other factors, has given rise to this problem.

Poverty and survival

The poverty and economic stagnation that hangs in the air are very much features of life in Itsoseng. The shopping complex is described by one of the comrades as “the only place that drives the economy”. However, the problem for some is that it “was built by the money of the enemy”. And so it is looted and burnt to the ground – an incident that Mawilla describes as “the beginning of our curse” Consequently, some people lose jobs, and the community loses its shops as well as a regular supply of food and other goods.

But the lack of a shopping Centre is only one factor in this picture of South African poverty. The township of Itsoseng is also an indication of the poverty in many other places in our country – the reality of young people matriculating yet not being able to find work or prospects of further study. The unemployment produces a situation in which many young women are lured into prostitution in order to survive. It is small wonder that many turn to crime, or have a child in order to collect the welfare grant, or embrace the anesthetics of alcohol and drugs.

The festival will consist of workshops hosted by thespians (actors)  and creative (Directors, writers, set designers, lighting designer, sound designers and producers, arts journalists and publicists in the theatre spaces) to list a few.

Exhibitions will take place at the theatre park across from Joburg Theatre to showcase upcoming set-work season in the year 2020, which includes Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Island and Sizwe Banzi is dead by Athol Fugard, Dr John Kani and Winston Ntshona


Author & Director: Omphile Molusi

Performer: Thapelo Sebogodi

Set and Costume designer: Ntabiseng Malaka

Lighting Designer: Hlomohang “Spider” Mothetho

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