Images by: Mlungisi Mlungwana | Creative Director Ayanda Sithebe |
Interview by : Ennovy Chauky Article by: Sisonke Mbalekwa
On 24th February, a week before the devastating news of Sibusiso Khwinana’s passing shattered the country. We spent a day in conversation with the now fallen Matwetwe star, and his co-actor and friend: Tebatso Mashishi, in Kliptown, Soweto, reflecting on their journey’s in the industry; their future ambitions and career aspirations. As we mourn the loss of a young talented actor and director, share with us the last memory we have of a life taken too soon.
The air above flowed thick, carrying with it smoke from open fires used to prepare smileys(sheeps-head) on street corners. Nearby dumpsites and exposed sewerage water exude pungent odours into the already overburdened sky. Groups of young men congregate at spaza shops while children’s bare feet drum the unmaintained dirt roads. This is The Forgotten Stepchild of Soweto. In between snaps, Tebatso, with his calm and confident demeanour, pokes fun at Sibusiso’s awkward interpretations of the creative direction and we all burst out into laughter. The combination of the shacks around us; friendly banter; Sepitori and the captivating chemistry between the two actors makes me feel like I am on the set of Matwetwe with just a couple of characters missing. Much to Sibusiso’s relief, the director finally calls it a wrap and we take a moment to delve deeper into the dynamic duo’s journey of breaking into the film industry.
Hailing from Soshanguve, a township in Pretoria, Sibusiso Khwinana is no stranger to storytelling. Having received training from the State Theatre, Sibusiso wrote his first script in 2014, a theatre play titled ‘Amend’, which won awards for Best Production and Best Script at the State Theatre. After staging other productions such as ‘Don’t Start’ and registering a Non-Profit Organization called Blank Page Productions and being a founding member of The Independent Theater Makers, at just twenty-five years old, Sibusiso had solidified his place as a playwright and theatre director to be reckoned with. Matwetwe serves as his debut into film, where he effortlessly portrays Lefa; a young man hustling to raise money to pursue a degree in Botany at Wits University.
“I’m definitely not famous. People recognize me more when I’m with Tebatso. But when I’m alone, they just stare, uncertain. I don’t like the spotlight so I’m okay with that.”
How did you discover your love for theatre?
In high school, I studied Mechanical Engineering. It was only in my matric year, upon stumbling into the State Theatre, that I realized where my true passion lies. I would save some money during the week so that I could visit the State Theatre every Saturday. I didn’t tell my parents in fear that they would disapprove. When the year came to an end, I lied to my parents and told them that I had applied to Tshwane University of Technology to study Mechanical Engineering and my application had been unsuccessful, so we had to find an alternative. When Youth in Trust (YIT) held auditions at the State Theatre, they already knew how passionate I was about drama since I went there so often. That’s how I got to study drama there for two years…..READ MORE
Just a couple of weeks ago, the South African audience was introduced to Tebatso Mashishi in spectacular fashion. The talented actor, writer and rapper, who goes by the stage name Prodykal Son, burst onto our screens with his portrayal of cool wannabe entrepreneur, Papi. Tebatso was born in Limpopo and moved to Mpumalanga at a young age, before his family finally settled in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. These are the experiences he attributes to his refreshing and well-rounded approach to storytelling. Tebatso studied science before realising his strengths lie elsewhere. As a drama student at the Tshwane University of Technology, he took to the stage many times to embody a wide variety of characters before landing his first camera role in a Sotho series called ‘Ya Lla’ that aired on Mzansi Magic in 2015.
“Mom attended none of my performance for about six months after I started studying at TUT. After pleading with her, she finally agreed to watch ‘Final Whistle’. It was a two-hander play where I played Sam, a death row inmate in conversation with a nun. She was impressed with my performance and became very supportive after that.”
How did you find your own identity as an actor?
I first had to get comfortable in my own skin. Being comfortable with who I am, ensures that I bring authenticity to any role I take on. As an actor, you can’t try to be someone you’re not, the audience will see right through you and your performance will be one dimensional. Theatre and film mirror real life and real people and you can’t embody the character and do justice to it when you’re not being real. It’s that realness that helped me find my own identity as an actor…….READ MORE