The meaning of home explored in ‘Hayani’

The meaning of home explored in ‘Hayani’

Hot on the heels of its recent success at the National Schools Festival in Grahamstown, the bold and energetic play about the meaning of home ‘Hayani’, starring Atandwa Kani and Nat Ramabulana, moves into the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from Thursday August 8 to 31 at 7pm nightly.

Warren Nebe directs the two-hander, which he has co-written with Kani and Ramabulana, both Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans and Fleur du Cap nominees. When the play premiered in 2009 the dynamic duo created a sensation and received standing ovations all round.

‘Hayani,’ which means ‘home’ in Venda, is an original play reflecting on the meaning of home in the South African context since its transition, and what it means to be a South African. It tells the story of two young black South African males trying to establish themselves in a country that is yet to define itself.

Their journeys begin with each of them taking a trip back “home” as they weave their personal narratives and try to better understand who they are. Atandwa goes back to New Brighton in Port Elizabeth and Nat makes his way to Thohoyandou in Limpopo (formerly Venda). Each journey navigates memories from their childhood and teen years, some painful, some funny, some awkward, but each one enriched by the detailed and honest portrayal of the two friends.

The performance is accompanied by evocative live music composed by Matthew Macfarlane and a set design by graffiti artist Mak1One.
“Home is where the heart is, is the central theme of the play”, says Kani.

“Where is your true home? How do you find it? How do you keep from leaving it? These are some of the questions which we explore and deal with. It is really the voice of a generation nearly lost and forgotten, and which is yearning to be heard. For us this is home-grown storytelling at its truest, a homecoming story which we hope will tug at raw heartstrings and which is honest.”

“We use these moments in our lives,” adds Ramabulana, “to take the audience on their own journey down memory lane and give them an opportunity to remember the moments in their lives that brought them to who they are and what they are now. In essence we are reminding each other that we are all the same and we are all just vessels of memory and feeling trying to make sense of the circumstances that we have been dealt with.”

Kani was seen at the Baxter recently in Sylvaine Strike’s award-winning ‘The Miser’. Before that he performed the role of Ariel alongside his father, John Kani, and Antony Sher in 2009 in the Baxter and RSC production of ‘The Tempest’.

In 2010 Ramabulana delighted audiences in the hugely successful ‘The Girl in the Yellow Dress’ by Craig Higginson. Most recently the two have been praised for their performances in Athol Fugard’s ‘The Island’, which was performed at the Market Theatre and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

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