Nwabisa Plaatjie: A Thespian in her own right

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By Asanda Masoka

This article can also be found in the print Edition 2 of VARSITY Newspaper.


Actor, playwright, and director captures the importance of the individual voice in a movement.

A thespian in her own right. Nwabisa Plaatjie, a BA (HONs) Theatre and Performance graduate from the University of Cape Town, is one, to name a few, of Cape Town’s creatives who are paving the way for the next generation of young writers, actors and directors to go places they once thought to be impossible. Nwabisa stands as a representative of black creative women who are existing and thriving – in their own right – in the creative space.

Image by Asanda Masoka

Her archive of work includes 3 original plays: Identirrhaging (2015), Aha! (2016) and 23 Years, a month and 7 days (2016), with 23 Years opening the Arena of The Young Arts Festival in Erlangen, Germany at the end of June. In addition, she staged the adaptation of The Native Who Caused All the Trouble.

The play, 23 years, a month and 7 days – powerful and riveting – is set against the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall student movement. It makes use of the power that is found in storytelling to engage audiences in the struggles faced by womxn who found themselves deep in systematically violent social and political environments. Her focus here was to “capture the individual voice who was not necessarily the voice of movement or at the front of it”

Freedom in creative spaces makes provision for the content offered to be better and unleashed at its full capacity; to spark conversation, to raise questions and speak to a much larger audience. And Nwabisa has done exactly that with her work.

While in conversation with Pap Culture – Nwabisa mentions that her journey in theatre began before her actual studies. Isiqendu was her first introduction to theatre or more so, her first introduction to story telling. Isiqendu is the telling of stories using rocks or pens as characters and creating a story that allows one’s imagination to conceive what the rocks and story is conveying.

Nwabisa Plaatjie is the first recipient of the Baxter Theatre’s PlayLab residency program; the second recipient of Theatre Arts Admin Collective’s Emerging Theatre Director’s Bursary 2017. Added to her list of achievements is the Fleur du Cap nominee for Best New Director, 2017. With these words, “there is a difference between being an activist fighting for change outside, and being a storyteller inside [the theatre]. I have the responsibility to each and every person who has bought a ticket and sat there.” We are excited to see what Nwabisa has in store for us in the future.

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