From the Rehearsal Room: Mamela

Presented by Curious Monkey in associated with Live Theatre,
The Swallows Foundation UK and Isiseko Senkonjane
Edited by Gez Casey & Ziphozakhe Hlobo
Performed as part of Afrovibes Festival

This article was written for Live Theatre by Nina Berry

Mamela maps out the journeys of eight young women from the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

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“The place you call home….?”
“What you’ve inherited from your parents…?”
“If you could go back in time…?”
“How does religion/politics affect your life…?”
“The difference between men and boys…?”
“Your future…?”

In case you were beginning to wonder I haven’t all of a sudden had a life changing, out of body, eye opening experience that has forced me to question/re-evaluate my entire being! Of course not, that would be most absurd for a humdrum Tuesday afternoon – wouldn’t it? Although, having said that my time spent in the Mamela rehearsal room came almighty close to doing just that.

The questions (above) are in fact just some of the notes that I scrawled down during my time spent in the rehearsal room (scrawled in that I was reluctant to take my eyes of the performance for even a second!). They are also indicators of the content that you can expect to be explored throughout the play articulated through the experiences, opinions and aspirations of women born towards the end of the Apartheid.

Having arrived at the rehearsal room in what can only be described as perfect timing as director Amy Golding informed me the Mamela girls were preparing to do a full run through of the piece for the first time – Lucky me!

Notebook and pen in hand I was all set to watch the rehearsal unfold. The beginning of the performance was marked by Nandipha Mtikitiki’s incredible singing voice, joined in unison by her fellow theatre makers I realised that (forgive me for sounding clichéd) there were no words that I could scribble on a page to describe how utterly beautiful or uplifting or exuberant those voices were or even how they made me feel at that moment. So, it’ll come as no surprise that other than the odd word/phrase my note taking went completely out of the rehearsal door so to speak.

As the rehearsal moved on I continued to be moved by the traditional African song and dance but more importantly the stories that these women had to share and their ability to bring laughter, light and positivity into the room.

So why should you take a trip to Live Theatre next week I hear you ask? To watch, to listen and to be in awe of this thought-provoking, energetic, excellent piece of theatre which I can guarantee will tug on your heart strings.

Have a listen for yourself on Live Theatre’s SoundCloud

You can see Mamela take to Live Theatre’s main stage from Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 November. You can also join director Amy Golding and the cast in a free post show discussion of their creative process and development of the play on Tuesday 4 November.

Tickets for Mamela are £14-£10, over 60s concs £12-£10, other concs £5. You can find out more about the show and book tickets at or by calling Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

Mamela is presented as part of Afrovibes Festival which brings some of the very best South African Arts to Newcastle. This year Afrovibes marks 20 years since the end of apartheid and the beginning of democracy. Making a welcome return to Live Theatre this year Afrovibes Festival extend to Northern Stage for the first time.

Find out more about Live Theatre’s exciting Afrovibes programme here and find out more about Northern Stage’s Afrovibes programme, including a Township Cafe jam packed with Fringe events, here

By Nina Berry


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