By Buhle Andisiwe Made
Breaking a leg and casting out for the future, MEQOQO Playback Theatre is creating an innovative and educational space for students and theatre. Inspired by Playback Theatre, MEQOQO is a collective housed at the Rhodes University Drama Department and created in 2018 and is led by artistic director Selloane Mokuku. Commonly referred to as Lalu, Mokuku is an experienced theatre maker, storyteller, academic, writer and performer. Chairperson, Nine Magagula, is a creator, artist, and a theatre and performance enthusiast, born and bred in Makhanda. She is currently in her third year at the university. MEQOQO is at the forefront of creative storytelling and community participation.
Being a playback theatre that uses improvisational and performing tactics to start conversations in theatre spaces. The collective has had intensive training with Mammatli Thakhuli-Nzunza of Mankokosane Playback Theatre. The MEQOQO collective is a stimulating centre that has been made available to applied and non-applied theatre students and the greater Makhanda community.
MEQOQO hits the stage on a termly basis, playing alongside and for the Rhodes University and Makhanda community. Their themes transcend and address a wide range of student-centred concerns, providing a forum for meaningful conversation.
The Playback Theatre Association quotes: “Some members of MEQOQO have been trained by Candice Steele, a Drama For Life certified Playback Theatre trainer, Cherae Halley of Drama For Life Playback Theatre Company, and a board member of the International Playback Theatre Network (IPTN),” their bio continues. Others have been trained by the founder of Drama For Life and Drama, Warren Nebe, through the KOKO! Mental Health project, performing for diverse groups such as the student leadership body.”
The collective holds some grand names to it; Siphesihle Ndaba ‒ a South African actress who plays the role of Mazet in the telenovela, ‘Gomora’, joined MEQOQO Collective – Playback Theatre company in 2017 during her studies. The collective is an exceptional hub for emerging creators.
MEQOQO’s partnerships are extensive, including alliances with Rhodes University Business School, Rhodes University School of Languages and Literatures’ BAQONDE project, local schools, Association Internationale du Theatre de l’Enfance et la Jeunesse/International Association of Theatre & Performing Arts for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ South Africa), the Environment Learning Research Centre with Dr. Dylan McGary of Empatheatre and ONE ocean Hub. The collective continues with its innovation as they have enriched the narrative experience by incorporating visual art with the help of art therapist Merrian Roy and shadow work with the assistance of multidisciplinary artist Angelina Maponya.
Stay tuned for more of MEQOQO narratives in 2024 and explore the world of MEQOQO and their impactful collaborations: