In the spirit of i’sibonelo – the acts of heeding, listening, responding to a collective celebration – Sibikwa honours the legacy of its co-founders Smal Ndaba and Phyllis Klotz.
Bra Smal and Mam’ Phyllis have been unstoppable in their constant reinvention of the idea of community engagement – building Sibikwa as a destination for the arts, with programs that are relevant, responsive and exciting; yet still maintaining its ethos and spirit of advancement, by providing multiple platforms for aspiring, emerging and established artists to learn, create and present work. At the forefront of issue-based theatre, one of the first plays produced under their directorship, was So Where To? which toured extensively throughout Southern Africa and abroad. Their catalogue has since grown to include seminal plays focusing on subjects as relevant and dispersed as gender equality and empowerment through protest theatre, and issues of LGBTQIA+ and the persecution of lesbians in Chapter 2 Section 9; to Kwela Bafana and DET Boys High; and plays that explored revisionist South African history, such as the play Ilembe, an historical essay into the life of King Shaka Zulu which offers a gloss on colonialist narrative.
Now 33 years later, unlike many performing arts organisations that have closed their doors to erratic global economics and political climates, Sibikwa is still alive and flourishing – this due, in no small part, to the two arts and culture advocates and activists, Bra Smal and Mam’ Phyllis, whose hard work, tenacity and vision – relentlessly driving the importance of artistic engagement, edutaiment advocacy, and the preservation and promotion of South Africa’s cultural heritage. Now as Sibikwa comes of age, not only as a Centre of Excellence that has groomed artists to perform and educators to innovate, but as led by two thespians who are heading into retirement; they are eager to share their experiences, and lessons through a commemorative book, on politics and the development of South African Theatre. The book, located in an inquiry of the uniqueness of Sibikwa and how it interfaces with communities, details the principles of Batho Pele people-focused arts projects, considering politics, economics and social factors; and explores its trademark style – using indigenous languages, rituals, popular oral traditions, and other performance theatre elements.
Sibikwa celebrates the legacy, passion, commitment, resilience and success of its co-founders, as evident in every facet of its being – an accredited educational centre of excellence and career launching platform, capacity builder, job creator, recreational centre, community builder, change agent, provider of entertainment, and arts ambassador – ultimately contributing to transforming South Africa into a country where the arts are presented and promoted as a powerful conduit for advancement.
Entering semi-retirement, Phyllis and Bra Smal continue their life-long association with and support of Sibikwa in a consulting capacity and as non-executive members of the Board.