Tthe axe that surpasses all other axes in sharpness' iLembe, from Johannesburg-based Sibikwa Arts Centre, is a powerful new visually- evocative production with beautiful music and pulsating dance, which depicts the last few months of the life of King Shaka, and comes to the Playhouse Drama from 15 April until 3 May.
iLembe is the latest production created by Sibikwa Arts Centre established in 1988. It consciously intends to provoke and challenge the audience's perceptions and encourage the audience to question concepts such as truth, honesty, perception and prejudice.
Sibikwa is perhaps best known in Durban for its vibrant musical and dance showcase of South African life in the fifties, Kwela Bafana, which thrilled and entertained audiences at the Playhouse last year.
iLembe is written and directed by the multi-award winning team of Smal Ndaba and Phyllis Klotz and designed by Sarah Roberts, who most-recently designed West Side Story for the Playhouse. It is presented in association with the Playhouse Company, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, as part of their New Stages programme. The music is by two-time SAMA award winner and acclaimed musician and composer Themba Mkhize; and the choreography is by Sifiso Kweyama. The music and dance accompanying this production marries Zulu-traditional with more modern influences - including contemporary dance and electronic music.
iLembe gives a twist to the traditional storytelling structure by unfolding the play through the eyes of Shaka's interpreter Jackot Msimbithi; the young Englishman Henry Fynn; Shaka's attendant Mbopha and his sister Nomcoba while three female musicians playing traditional instruments form the chorus.
A comprehensive exhibition, curated by Dr Rayda Becker, which reflects the multi-interpretation of Shaka through images dating from 1824 through to the 21st century, accompanies the production.
The story of Shaka is part of the Grade ten school syllabus, and is suitable for grades 7, 8 and 9 as well. To accommodate high school learners, there are performances earmarked for schools from April 15 onwards. The show runs at 90 minutes with no interval.
For information on high-school groups or block bookings contact Dawn Haddon on 031 3699456 /
. Teaching materials which support the production are available to educators who bring their learners to see the show.
There are public performances from Sunday 27 April until Sat 3 May. (Sun 27 @ 7.30pm; Tues 29 @ 10am; Wed 30 @ 10am; Friday 2 May at 7.30pm; Sat 3 May at 7.30pm) Booking is open and tickets can be purchased through Computicket; or phone 0861 915 8000 or book online at
. Seating is reserved.