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MoMo the incredible!

The Cry of Winnie Mandela is a poignant theatrical production poised to grace The Market Theatre from 30 March to 21 April 2024
Fri, Mar 01, 2024

In the small and cliquey world of South African theatre, Kgomotso “MoMo” Matsunyane’s name carries significant weight. Coming from a lineage of capable artistic forebears, MoMo is charting her own path. A versatile figure in acting, playwriting, and directing, MoMo’s journey through the arts is marked by dedication, creativity, and undeniable talent. Recently honoured with the 2023 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre, her rise to prominence signifies not only personal achievement but also celebrates storytelling’s transformative influence on the local Africa’s cultural fabric.

MoMo’s artistic odyssey commenced at Wits University, where she immersed herself in Dramatic Arts, majoring in Performance and Film and Television. Here, she discovered her knack for storytelling amid academic rigours, laying the groundwork for a captivating career. Her breakthrough on the theatrical stage garnered acclaim, notably in her pivotal role in Hlakanyana The Musical. This production, blending music and narrative seamlessly, earned numerous accolades at the 2023 Naledi Awards.

Reflecting on her involvement, MoMo says: “Being part of Hlakanyana was a collaborative effort, and I’m grateful for its recognition. It showcased the power of storytelling through music and theatre.”

However, MoMo’s influence extends beyond performances; it shapes SA’s theatrical scene. As one of the creative forces behind Hlakanyana The Musical,” she skillfully penned narratives that resonated deeply with audiences, elevating the production. Her role as festival director for the 2023 Zwakala Festival provided a platform for emerging talents, underscoring her commitment to nurturing future storytellers.

Despite accolades, MoMo’s journey is marked by moments of doubt. “Sometimes I panic when vision lacks for a production or role approach. But inspiration often strikes, particularly through vivid dreams, as showtime nears,” she says.

This delicate balance of vulnerability and resilience epitomises MoMo’s artistic ethos—a willingness to embrace uncertainty with courage and creativity, trusting the process to yield moments of revelation and innovation.

At rehearsals for The Cry of Winnie Mandela, MoMo’s stature was in her element in a star-studded room featuring some of the country’s finest. Based on the popular novel by poet, novelist, and essayist Njabulo Ndebele, The Cry of Winnie Mandela is a poignant theatrical production poised to grace The Market Theatre from 30 March to 21 April. This thoughtful new play of resilience is adapted by Alex Burger and directed by Matsunyane. The cast comprises Nambitha Mpumlwana, Rami Cheune, Siyasanga Papu, Ayanda Sibisi, Pulane Rampoana, and Les Nkosi.

Through the imagination of a literary professor, the action centres on the stories of four women who reflect on a period of waiting during the absence of their men. Between intense emotional moments and cleverly injected humour, the dynamic theatrical adaptation weaves together their private accounts, exposing the shadows, isolation, and complexities of their evocative experiences. A series of intimate and powerful conversations unfold as the characters reveal the profound impact of this period on their life, delving into the depths of their longing and uncertainty as they forge their stories to that of the life and times of Winnie Mandela.

“It’s about what women have endured, particularly in the 80s,” MoMo says MoMo. “It’s a story about women in waiting; was Winnie a hero or villain? We explore this and other ways of being while waiting.”

As MoMo Matsunyane continues shaping South African theatre, her journey serves as a reminder of human potential. In a challenging world, her dedication to her craft inspires generations to dream boldly and create fearlessly in the arts.

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