Vision to open an arts centre

By Yonela Winayi

“The time for roaming around street corners is over. It is now time to rise and take advantage of the available opportunities as a greater destiny is promised.”

That’s the message that 38-year-old Phathisa Tshali wants to convey to the youth. 

Tshali plans on opening an arts centre in Jojweni, in the small village of Tsholomnqa. He wishes to impart his knowledge of cultural dancing and repurposing old materials to create props.  

His own life story inspires him to want to introduce young people to what the world has to offer. Traditional dancing has taken him to countries such as Tunisia, Sweden and Zambia. 

Currently his plans are to renovate and use an abandoned rondavel homestead in his village that was previously used for community farming as his place to open his arts centre. He said that the renovations needed are minor touch ups and that acquiring African drums has been his biggest challenge yet.

Tshali wants to overcome the issue of drug use in adolescents in his community by introducing them to theatre performance. He wants to teach youngsters how use recycled material to make traditional dancing costumes and drums, he also intends on teaching them traditional dancing and playing different percussion instruments. 

His biggest goal is to create a music and dance production that will unite all the youth from Tsholomnqa and ultimately bring them to the world. He sees his production performing at the Grahamstown Arts Festival, at the Market Theatre and at all local festivals and theatres.

Tshali was introduced to performance theatre in his youth when he left home to pursue his studies in Port Elizabeth. He started out as a praise poet in a performance group called Uphondo Lwe Afrika and that is when the theatre bug bit him and that led to him learning different traditional dancing styles such Xhosa, Zulu and Setswana dancing. 

He went on to join the Windybrow Theatre in Johannesburg where learnt pursued acting and township dancing. After returning to Port Elizabeth he joined The African Drumbeat a cultural dance group. That is where he went on to meet Ruth McIntosh, an international arts and theatre professional from the UK, which led to him traveling the world performing.

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