UFH Master’s student directs drama society to greater heights

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Yanga Mabetshe, UFH Drama Society Director, is a passionate, self-taught drama coach who has witnessed some of his production being performed on national stages such as the National Arts Festival (NAF) in Makhanda.

Mabetshe is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Science in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Born in Mdantsane, Mabetshe has no formal drama and directing training but says his love for art grew through his involvement in countless community drama projects in the Eastern Cape and nationwide.

“As a drama coach, I did not attend any art schools, but received training and developed a passion for creative arts through professional experiences. I had the opportunity of being part of professional drama projects hosted by theatre practitioners and because of my commitment and passion for drama, I was able to train and educated myself.”

He says being a director of the UFH drama society happened spontaneously due to the fact that he was the most dedicated member. “I had a vision of seeing growth in the drama and creative arts at UFH after realising that it was something that the University was missing in extra mural activities.”

Being a fulltime student and the director of the drama society, Mabetshe says he still finds time to produce and direct relevant plays that make it to big stages across the province. “Juggling school work and drama is not difficult for me as I have been writing, directing and presenting plays since I was an undergraduate until now. So, I am used to this.”

Mabetshe says he is pursuing a Master’s degree to push his academic career while being called a drama director feels like a recognition by those who admire the positive contribution and social change he brings through his passion for the arts.

This year the UFH Drama Society made their third appearance on the NAF stage with their play Xa Bekutheni? A play that seeks to create a conversation on some of the root causes of gender-based violence by following the lives of two people (male and female) who have experienced GBV from childhood to adolescence. In 2018 they performed a piece titled: Isandi Segubu’ (The Sound of the Drum) which explores matters related to cultural traditions, ancestral veneration and religion. In 2019, they performed a play titled: The Maxhoba Village: Lost tribe, which centres on the Maxhoba Village which considers the world beyond its boundaries to be a “lost tribe”.

“Featuring at NAF is always an opportunity for us to learn, teach, build as well as create relationships with other like-minded people, and institutions that cater for the development of the Creative Arts industry in the country and the continent.”

Their most recent play which premiered at the 2022 NAF will be showcased at the Mariam Makeba Arts Centre (East London Campus), The Guild Theatre and the Steve Biko Centre throughout Women’s Month.