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Converse with your subconscious at Makhanda Arts Festival

- Wits University

Wits Theatre and Performance undergraduate students present ‘Temperance’ in the Eastern Cape in June 2023.

Undergraduate students in the Department of Theatre and Performance (TAP) in the Wits School of Arts (WSOA) were selected to perform at the prestigious National Arts Festival in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), which takes place from 22 June to 2 July 2023.

The Wits students’ production, Temperance, is on from 27 June to 1 July 2023 at The Fringe’s Theatre/Rehearsal Room, 1820 Settlers Monument Building, Makhanda, Eastern Cape.

Temperance is a play by Fabiano Di Giandomenico and other Wits Theatre and Performance undergraduates on at the National Arts Festival in June 2023 600x300

Fabiano di Giandomenico, 20, wrote, directs, and plays the lead role of Being in Temperance.

He says, “When my cast and I first received the news, we were thrilled, but we also realised the challenges which lie ahead. We will have to prove our worth. This is no small project, but we all know, as our performance states, ‘we have all the answers and capabilities within ourselves, we must simply acknowledge our worth and act upon it,’ which is what we intend to do.”

The entire cast of Temperance are TAP undergraduate students at Wits University. They are:

  • Fabiano di Giandomenico, writer, and director, in the lead role, Being
  • Sibabalwe Dyaphu, an actress, pianist, and singer, plays Mother and Figure 1
  • Khanyisile Masondo, a dancer, singer, and choreographer, portrays Friend and Figure 3
  • Zukhanye Bulali Mgobo, an actor, dancer (spoken word; Hip Hop/Rap), plays Teacher and Figure 2
  • Philip Shelembe, an actor, plays Lover and Figure 4.

Sazikazi Bula, a multidisciplinary storyteller and already a Wits BA graduate now pursuing her ‘calling’ in TAP, is the stage manager/sound engineer.

Julian August is Head of Lighting at The Wits Theatre and the lighting technician for Temperance.

The play Temperance features an all Wits cast LtoR Fabiano di Giandomenico, Sibabalwe Dyaphu, Khanyisile Masondo, Zukhanye Mgobo, and Philip Shelembe

Reconnect with the Self

Temperance, a work highlighting the importance of conversing with the subconscious mind, takes us on a deep and dark journey of reconnecting with the Self. 

When Being, who represents humanity, becomes aware of his disconnection, he wrestles with what hinders him, confronts his past and in so doing returns to inner truths and resources. 

Through the illusion of lights, physical movement, and a surreal setting, we travel through a roller-coaster of emotions that reflect both the utter agony and pure peace that form part of the process of self-discovery.

Di Giandomenico says, “I hope that by watching the piece audiences find courage and hope to overcome whatever it is they are dealing with, by finding the value in sitting with the self and having the tough conversations we all desperately need from time to time. What matters is that the audiences leave with some sort of insight or inspiration, understanding, healing and/or passion for being alive and being human.”

The importance of Being Temperance

The modern use of the word ‘temperance’ refers to what an individual voluntarily refrains from doing; it is the virtue of moderation, self-restraint, abstinence, and control over excess.

Di Giandomenico says the name of his play was inspired by the Tarot card, Temperance, “which is about creating an inner and outer sense of harmony and balance achieved through reconnecting to ourselves (our subconscious mind) and the world around us. In relation to the play, this is about sitting alone with the self and truly getting to know who you are, which can be a scary thing.”

Arts in the DNA

Wits Theatre and Performance undergraduate Fabiano di Giandomenico wrote, directs and plays the lead role in Temperance at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda in June 2023 600x300

Di Giandomenico’s immersion in the arts is unsurprising, since he attended the National Children’s Theatre from the age of 13 and both his mother and grandmother are in the performing arts.

He has always had an interest in and a flair for dramatic and abstract works, and a deep admiration for physical theatre.

He aims to create works which function either as a form of healing, awareness, or education – which explains why all his plays thus far have been personal. In high school, he devised the play Loss, which spoke about the five stages of grief.

“It was inspired by my own experience of losing my dog at a very young age,” he says. “As someone who has never been very good at making sense of these abstract and slippery things we call emotions, the stage and the world of theatre became my area of exploration – my platform for self-therapy, self-discovery, expression, and healing. I suppose this is why I’m interested in Drama Therapy.”

Unlock therapy

He believes everyone has the means for self-therapy and self-healing, as we all have the answers inside. “It’s a matter of unlocking those means,” says Di Giandomenico, who plans to major in Acting and Applied Drama and to become a registered arts/drama therapist.

“As a creative, it is always hard to get recognition and appreciation for your work. It is always a vulnerable space to be in, as you never know how your creativity, your soul, will be received, if at all. So it is a great honour and privilege to have my performance, my story, representing the University, at the National Arts Festival.”