Sisonke: Another feather in Iyasa’s cap


VIENNA — They sing Austrian songs in their mother language, Ndebele, they teach the language to the audience, they share memories from their different countries, cities, homes and backgrounds and the theatre melts with various cultures blending into a very powerful theatre music and dance production that will linger in one’s memory for time memorial.


Dschungel Wien (Austria), Make Make (Austria ) and Iyasa (Zimbabwe) broke boundaries and built new bridges last week when they premiered their latest co-production Sisonke — Solange Wir Zusammen Sind which in English translates to “as long as we are together”.

Iyasa has worked with the Dschungel Wien for 10 years and what a way they have celebrated their relationship with Austrian theatre in the past 10 years!

Having come up with other collaborations with the theatre, which include Schlaf Gut Susser Mond (Sleep Well Sweet Moon) and African Fairytales this was to become their first production in which they actually shared the stage with other actors from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

That variety is what made the production unique because of the differing backgrounds of the performers.

With a Bulawayo father and German mother Sithembile Menck brings an interesting angle to the piece.

She left the audience asking themselves a lot of questions about what and where “home”is.

She grew up in Berlin, but has always believed that her roots are in Zimbabwe.
She is a robust performer who carries an amazing free spirit. One of the actors Michelle Rohrbach was also born in Switzerland and all performers had the chance to stay in Bulawayo as a means to prepare them for the production.

The 11 actors, singers and dancers have taken audiences through an explosive journey of their life stories and memories.

Starting from biographical experiences and personal thoughts, they have entered the realm of sociopolitical issues.
Questions of origin, upbringing, educational opportunities and living conditions confront the audience.

What is the value of family in varied cultural contexts? How do we deal with prejudice and clichés on a very personal level?

What do we want to reveal about ourselves and what do we want to know about others?
While the 11 actors explored their origins, their habits and needs, the audience is set to agree that we are only different because we are the same.

We are together in the urge for love, happiness and safety. Sisonke is definitely another feather on the hat of the well-travelled Iyasa ensemble.

The production is set to run the whole month of September in Vienna Austria alongside other programmes planned to celebrate Zimbabwe and Iyasa for the entire month.

Sisonke was conceptualised by Iyasa director Nkululeko Innocent Dube and Sarah Ostertag who together with their respective groups were assisted by
Dschungel Wien to bring it to fruition.

Dube said this was just the beginning of a new level of co-operation with Austria in the arts and that next year they will be working towards bringing the programme to Zimbabwe.