Imbilini…my friend! is a new South African play written and performed by Bulelani Mabutyana along with Siphenathi Mayekiso. The work debuts at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, from 9 to 25 June, 2022, at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Powerful, potent and funny, the physical theatre two-hander explores trust, empathy and that of being the other. A profound friendship is put to the test between two young men who grapple with poverty, alcoholism, prejudice and society’s beliefs about albinism. –

The play was selected from a cohort of 10 creatives who attended The Baxter Masambe Playlab, a four-month long, writing residency which was held at the Baxter last year and which offered writers time, space, peer-to-peer mentoring and financial resources to create new work, as part of the Baxter’s Platform for Special Talent programme.

Bulelani Mabutyana and Siphenathi Mayekiso in Imbilini…my friend.
Bulelani Mabutyana and Siphenathi Mayekiso

Direction by Mdu Kweyama

Developed under the guidance of director Lara Foot, Mabutyana and Mayekiso wrote Imbilini as an ode to their friendship, one of protectiveness amid society’s warped beliefs about albinism. They navigate Mayekiso’s lived experience of albinism in a society that simply knows too little about the condition and how alcohol becomes a crutch to deal with hardship. Mabutyana is protective of his friend and concerned for his safety.

The duo is directed by Mdu Kweyama (Shadow Boxing, The Goat, or who is Sylvia?, Reza de Wet’s Missing), who is the curator of the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival. He was awarded the Naledi award for Best Actor in a Lead Role and Best Original Choreography for Karoo Moose in 2008. He is a Fleur du Cap Best New Director winner, and in 2013 he won the best director award at the Setkani Festival for his adaptation of Mike van Graan’s Brothers in Blood.

Bulelani Mabutyana, a theatre graduate from Magnet Theatre, is a former recipient of the ICA’s emerging directors’ programme. He has appeared in the adaptation of Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness directed by Mark Fleishman and in Brink Scholtz’s Running away with Gold Fish. He is a former Baxter Best of Zabalaza winner for his production of Worst of Both Worlds.

Siphenati Mayekiso is also a graduate of the Magnet Theatre training programme. In 2013 he joined the Garage Dance Company in Okiep under the tutelage of Alfred Hinkel. As a freelance performer he has done puppetry work for UNIMA South Africa and facilitated workshops for Magnet Theatre’s Culture Gangs Project. He has acted as a stage manager for various productions and appeared in the film Nommer 27, which won two awards in the Kyknet Silwerskerm. In 2021 he performed in Trapped, a brand-new work by Unmute Dance Company.

In 2017 The Baxter launched an innovative playwriting residency, a laboratory space for new writers to create and develop new plays under the guidance of a dramaturg with the goal of developing a full-length play. It was within this space that Imbilini … my friend! was chosen to be developed.

What: Imbilini…my friend!
Where: Baxter Golden Arrow Studio
When: 9 – 25 June 2022 at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees 2.30pm.
Tickets: www.webtickets.co.za, Pick n Pay
Age restriction: 13 years
WS