World premiere of Neighbourhood

Neighbourhood cast. Photo: Mark Anthony Dobson.

Land justice and affordable housing investigated by the award-winning Tiisetso Mashifane, in Neighbourhood, at The Baxter this August.

Award-winning playwright-director Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni’s new play, Neighbourhood, will have its world premiere at the Baxter Studio from 2 to 24 August 2024 at 20:00 with Saturday matinees at 14:.30. The riveting story investigates the lingering effects of spatial apartheid in the ongoing fight for land justice and affordable housing in urban areas.

Performed in English, Sepedi, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Afrikaans, this multilingual and pressing story is written and directed by Mashifane, recent winner of the Fleur du Cap Best New South African Script award. It features a vibrant young cast composed of members of the Baxter’s Fires Burning company, Awethu Hleli, Carlo Daniels, Lyle October, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe and Tamzin Williams (all seen in Othello and of Loss – handle with care), with Carla Smith (Othello, Terminaal 3) and Jock Kleynhans (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Dumb Waiter), rounding off the ensemble.

The creative team is made up of Patrick Curtis (set design), Michaeline Wessels (costume design), Jannous Aukema (sound design) and Andi Colombo (lighting design).

Set in contemporary South Africa, the play follows the relationship between two fictional neighbourhoods, Lindela, an informal settlement that sees many of its community members travel to and from Everwood, an upper middle-class suburb, for better work and education opportunities. After multiple cries for affordable housing within the neighbourhood they seek their livelihoods from, the Lindela community members take matters into their own hands and move into Everwood, to become neighbours to those they serve.

“Why you don’t want us to be your neighbours? You don’t like us?” asks Jacob, a car guard and Lindela community member to upper middle class Everwood residents in the play.

The development of the play began in early 2023 when Baxter Theatre CEO and artistic director, Lara Foot, in conversation with Ndifuna Ukwazi (a land and housing activist organisation on the ongoing and growing housing crisis), challenged and supported Tiisetso to go out and creatively investigate the South African housing crisis through a research-based play.

With Ndifuna Ukwazi acting as a research base, she embarked on an over yearlong research and playwriting process of interviewing various South Africans who are involved in the housing crisis ecosystem while also gathering inspiration from various traditional media and social media sources to produce a fictional stage production based on her findings.

Mashifane wa Noni explains ‘The issue of land and housing is not new within South Africa’s post-apartheid narrative, so I have had to be very particular with how I would tackle the issue. From the interviews I conducted and the information I found, I very quickly made the decision not to write a story of hope as there is nothing hopeful about spatial apartheid and people not having access to adequate housing. So, I have opted to tell a story about the fragility of everyday living because most South Africans are living on the precipice of poverty. Most are one or two disasters, decisions or mistakes away from being down and out.’

Tiisetso is a playwright, theatre maker and producer who strives to make provocative content focused on themes of social politics, history and violence in contemporary South Africa. She has been described as a “theatre prodigy” in the Cape Times, a “brilliant young mind” by TEDxYouth Cape Town and as a playwright-director who has “her ear to the ground, her heart in the right place and a mind worth tapping into,” in Daily Maverick.

She graduated with a BA in Politics and International Studies, Philosophy and Dramatic Arts from Rhodes University and a BA (Hons) in Directing for Stage from the University of Cape Town. Her plays Sainthood and Delela have, between them, garnered a Standard Bank Ovation Award and four Fleur du Cap nominations with a win for Best New South African Script in 2024. She was also named the 2023 Baxter Theatre CEO’s Artist of the Year for the two plays.

The production is made possible through the generous support of the City of Cape Town, the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, National Arts Council and Cape Talk.

Neighbourhood runs at the Baxter Studio from 2 to 24 August 2024 and booking is now open at Webtickets online (www.webtickets.co.za) or at Pick n Pay stores.


For more media enquiries or pic requests, please contact Fahiem Stellenboom on Tel 021 680 3971 or e-mail fahiem.stellenboom@uct.ac.za or Robyn September on e-mail robyn.september@uct.ac.za or call her on 021 680 3963.


Fahiem Stellenboom
fahiem.stellenboom@uct.ac.za
072 265 6023
Baxter Theatre Centre
http://www.baxter.co.za

Neighbourhood cast. Photo: Mark Anthony Dobson.
Neighbourhood cast. Photo: Mark Anthony Dobson.
Neighbourhood cast. Photo: Mark Anthony Dobson.
Neighbourhood cast. Photo: Mark Anthony Dobson.