When Wynberg resident Siphokazi Jonas, 32, found out that studying science was not her forte, and that she gravitated more to drama and writing, she changed her course and pursued studying the written word and acting.
Born in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, Siphokazi said during her first year at the University of Cape Town she studied biotechnology and she didn’t do well. The next year at varsity she changed to English and drama classes and in 2014 she completed her Master’s degree in English Literature.
This week she’ll be showcasing her talent in the play Around the Fire, which she wrote and performs in. The play will be staged at the Artscape, until August 11. An extra show will be performed tomorrow, Thursday August 9 (Women’s Day) at 3pm as well as 7.30pm.
In this fusion of theatre, poetry and live music, a uniquely South African story unfolds. Four women with very different backgrounds, Mbali, Faiza, Amber and Angel, find themselves sharing a makeshift fire on a rainy Cape Town evening. Brought together by unexpected circumstances, they form a bond as fierce and temporary as the fire. Mbali, the homeless guardian of the fire, an Eastern Cape “refugee”, unravels the stories that brought them there while trying to make sense of her own place in a city that renders her invisible.
Siphokazi’s creative flare for the arts was explored when she produced four one-woman poetry shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. “I have performed at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country,” she said.
Siphokazi, whose name means gift in Xhosa, said she has learnt to play the guitar and she teaches English part-time.
Her experience with spoken word and performance has led to multiple invitations to judge poetry slam competitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. She has also performed alongside renowned musicians, including Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies and Dave Reynolds.
Siphokazi made history in 2016 as the first African poet to perform at Rhetoric in Los Angeles, California, the biggest Christian spoken word event in the world.
Until recently she was a teaching assistant at UCT and she lectured part-time on South African literature and oral poetry. She runs writing and performance workshops for children and adults as part of her Page to Podium series. Siphokazi also guest teaches spoken word and performance at an elementary school in Gainesville, Florida.
Siphokazi said after the play she will be visiting book fairs and festivals to spread her wings.
Tickets for Around the Fire are R100 and R120. Book through Computicket.