ACTOR TOOLS | SOUTH AFRICAN MONOLOGUES VOL 2

In the rich tapestry of South African theater, monologues serve as poignant expressions of personal narratives, societal reflections, and cultural critiques. , these monologues encapsulate the raw essence of South African storytelling. Each piece not only resonates with universal themes of struggle, identity, and resilience but also carries the distinct voice of its creators, weaving together histories and aspirations of a nation marked by diversity and change. Join us as we delve into the soul-stirring world of South African monologues, where every word echoes with the heartbeat of a nation.

1. BORN IN THE RSA – A docu-drama

Workshopped with Vanessa Cooke, Timmy Kwebulana, Neil McCarthy, Gcina Mhlophe, Terry Norton, Thoko Ntshinga, Fiona Ramsay – and Barney Simon

 

Character : Thenjiwe

 

One minute I was dreaming of a nice Kentucky chicken and chips, the next, I was on my way to Police Headquarters, with a cop on either side. That’s life in the RSA…

They led us through a lot of clanging gates to my cell. After twenty-eight days they came for me. They led me down a flight of stairs and into an office that had been a cell. Inside there were four cops, three whites and one black. They looked nice and fresh. They gave me a thick file with clean pages inside. ‘ Now, my girlie, you know what you’re going to do? You are going to write about yourself – everything – from the day you were born until now. And you don’t leave anything out. Your involvement with the ANC, Azapo, this Kommunis, guerrilla training….and no games hey?

I took my pen and started writing….I just kept on writing. Where I was born, where I schooled, my family, and my work. I didn’t care about sense, I just kept writing…. ‘You are being very stubborn. Now you are just going to stand until you tell us the truth. The only time you will sit is when you go to the toilet and that will be for one minute, that’s all.’

Okay, I thought, I will stand until I die…

I stood eighteen hours a day for the first five days. They came in six-hour shifts. When I went back to my cell, I couldn’t sit or bend. It took me ages, first to sit, then to lie, but by the time sleep came it was time to stand again. My body began to swell. They swore at me, they threw their left-over food at me, and their cigarette stompies. They began to hit me. On the seventh day my shift was changed to twenty-four hours. I learnt to sleep with my eyes open. I looked up at the ceiling and I slept and dreamt. I slept and dreamt….The sound of their boots pacing up and down…

…There was a loud bang. It was a very young white cop. He was kicking the wall. His was a face I had seen before. For a moment I pitied him. At least I was doing something I believed in, but what was his life? Locked up in a cell with a swaying, swelling kaffir-girl with rolling eyes. He took some money out of his pocket and sent the black cop out to buy him a Coke. He watched me. ‘How many boyfriends have you got?’

I didn’t answer.

‘Don’t you miss them?’ He moved towards me.

I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, I don’t know how much later, he was still there, watching.

I thought ‘No, I can’t believe it – he wants to grab me, to take me.’ I wanted to tell him ‘Listen man, it’s no use, it’ll take you an hour to get me to lie down and I’m no good at doing it standing.’ He kept watching me. His gun was on the table. If I could just fall that way, I would land on it. The thought of

using a gun for the first time got me very excited. I saw it happen – Kazoom! Kazoom! Again and again! Kazoom! Like a crazy cowboy movie! Kazoom! Kazoom! …..Thixo! The black cop arrived with the Coke.

Wayimosha!

I think we were equally disappointed.

Thenjiwe begins to sing softly, getting louder as she stands defiant and begins to dance

Se kudala

Ku dalasisebenzelama bhulu se benzi masihoangane

Amandla

Amandla ngawethu

Ba se benzi masihoangane

Ilizwe

Ilizwe lelethu

Ba se benzi masihoangane

2. Tshepang: The Third Testament by Lara Foot Newton

Character: Simon

Monologue:

Six years ago, I stood on this stage and told you about the most terrible thing that happened in our town. A thing so terrible that it changed us all forever. The rape of a nine-month-old baby girl named Tshepang. You might think it’s a story about a monster. But the truth is, it’s a story about all of us. Our failures, our fears, our complicity. We live in a place where violence is as common as the sunrise, where hope is a fragile thing.

I look around me, and I see the faces of my neighbors, my friends, people I’ve known all my life. And I wonder, how did we get here? How did we let this happen? Tshepang’s story is not just her story. It’s our story. And until we face it, we will never change.

There was a time when I believed that good would prevail, that justice would be served. But as the years have gone by, I’ve seen the opposite. I’ve seen the worst in people. I’ve seen how easy it is to turn a blind eye, to pretend that it’s not our problem. But it is our problem. It’s our shame. Our guilt.

I remember the day it happened like it was yesterday. The sky was clear, the sun was shining. It was a day like any other. But in one house, in one room, a crime was being committed that would reverberate through our entire community. And what did we do? We whispered, we gossiped, we pointed fingers. But we did nothing to stop it.

I’ve spent countless nights lying awake, wondering if there was something I could have done. Something I could have said. But the truth is, we are all to blame. We created an environment where such evil could flourish. We allowed it to happen.

Tshepang survived. But she will carry the scars for the rest of her life. And so will we. Every time I look at her, I see the pain, the betrayal. But I also see strength. I see resilience. She is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is a glimmer of hope.

We cannot change the past. But we can change the future. We can be better. We must be better. For Tshepang. For ourselves. For all the children who deserve to grow up in a world free from fear, free from violence. It starts with us. It starts now.

3. Nothing But the Truth” by John Kani

Character: Sipho

Monologue:

“My brother, Themba, was always the hero. The one everyone admired. But what about me? I worked hard all my life. I sacrificed. I stayed in South Africa during the struggle while he was in exile. I raised my daughter alone. And what do I have to show for it? Nothing. My entire life, I’ve been in his shadow. He was the one who got the recognition, the applause. And now, even in death, he overshadows me.

Do you know what it’s like to be invisible? To be the one who holds everything together, who makes sure everything runs smoothly, but never gets any thanks? It’s like being a ghost. You’re there, but no one sees you. No one acknowledges you. And after a while, you start to believe it. You start to think that maybe you really are nothing.

I’ve spent my whole life being the responsible one, the reliable one. But who takes care of me? Who sees me? I am tired of being the invisible man. It’s time I spoke my truth. It’s time I stood up and said, ‘I am here. I matter.’

Themba was brave, yes. But he also ran away. He left me here to deal with the mess. He left me to look after our parents, to fight the battles he couldn’t. And I did it. I did it all. But at what cost? My dreams, my aspirations, my life.

I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to make a difference. But instead, I became a librarian. A keeper of other people’s stories. And now, I’m tired. I’m tired of living in the past. I’m tired of being defined by what I didn’t do, what I didn’t become. It’s time for me to find my own path. To write my own story.

So here I am. Standing before you, not as Themba’s brother, not as the responsible one, but as Sipho. A man who has dreams, who has desires, who has a voice. A man who will no longer be invisible. I will no longer be silent. This is my truth.”

4. The Island” by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona

Character: Winston

Monologue:

“I am Antigone. I stand before you, a prisoner, condemned for the crime of burying my brother. I am not afraid to die. What I did, I did out of love. I honored the gods’ laws over the laws of men. My brother deserved a proper burial, and I gave him that. I know that what I did was right, even if it means I must die for it. My conscience is clear.

I look around me, and I see the injustice, the cruelty, the tyranny. I see the powerful crushing the weak, the innocent suffering at the hands of the guilty. And I wonder, how did we get here? How did we become a society where love is a crime, where compassion is punished?

But I will not be silenced. I will not be cowed. They can lock me up, they can kill me, but they cannot silence my soul. My spirit will live on, and my story will be told. I am Antigone, and I defy your unjust laws. I defy your tyranny. I am free in my heart.

I think of my brother, lying cold in the ground. He was a good man, a kind man. He deserved better than this. And I will not let his memory be tarnished by your hatred, your cruelty. I will stand up for him, for his honor, for his dignity. Even if it costs me my life.

And to those who stand by and watch, who say nothing, who do nothing – you are complicit. Your silence is your consent. Your inaction is your guilt. But know this: the truth will always prevail. Justice will always triumph. You can try to bury it, to hide it, to silence it, but it will always rise up. It will always find a way.

I am Antigone. I am a voice for the voiceless, a light in the darkness. And I will not be silenced. Not now, not ever.”

5. Ubu and the Truth Commission by Jane Taylor, William Kentridge, and the Handspring Puppet Company

Character: Ma Ubu

Monologue:

“I am Ma Ubu, wife of the infamous Pa Ubu. You all know what he did. The murders, the corruption, the lies. But do you know what it was like for me? To live with him, to see the blood on his hands every day? To hear the screams of his victims in my sleep?

I am not innocent. I turned a blind eye. I kept silent. I benefited from his crimes. But now, I must speak. I must tell the truth. For my own soul, if not for anyone else. The truth is a heavy burden, but it is one I must carry. I cannot undo the past, but I can face it. I can own my part in it. And I can hope, someday, for forgiveness.

Every day, I watched him, the man I loved, the father of my children, commit atrocities. And I did nothing. I told myself I was powerless, that I had no choice. But the truth is, I was afraid. Afraid of losing him, afraid of losing the life we had built. Afraid of facing the consequences of my own complicity.

But now, I see that my silence was the real crime. My fear was the real betrayal. And I can no longer live with it. I can no longer pretend that I am innocent. I am guilty. Guilty of turning a blind eye, of staying silent, of benefiting from the suffering of others.

I don’t know if I can ever make amends. I don’t know if I can ever find redemption. But I must try. I must speak the truth, even if it destroys me. Even if it means facing the wrath of my husband, the scorn of my community, the judgment of the world.

I am Ma Ubu. I am a woman who has lived in the shadows, who has hidden behind lies. But now, I must step into the light. I must face the truth. And I must hope that somehow, someday, I can find forgiveness.”

6.Kalushi

FILM

Character: Solomon

Monologue:

All we want is freedom, That’s all we want

Freedom

Freedom for children to learn , freedom for men to work, for mothers to love , for a nation to grow in it. That’s all we want.

Equality for everyone .

You see I am just one of many, a foot soldier. There will be many many more to follow so there is not court of law , no police force, no army that will stop the tide of revolution from turning . There is no punishment that you can lay out in this court, no law, no government can pass.

It will kill the will of the people , because we will fight

We will continue to fight . Until all our people are free.

And maybe we can even free you from yourselves. So you can hate us, degrade us , torture us and kill us but we will fight.

And we will be free. One day

We will be free

AMANDLA!

AMANDLA!

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