JOHANNESBURG – In the run-up to its comical debut at the International Arts Festival, comic Tyson Ngubeni has set out to give audiences a preview of his show The Dark Ages later this month with the aim of raising over R20,000 for the Tsebo Bursary Fund.
Directed by Donovan Goliath, The Dark Ages is an almost autobiographical telling of Ngubeni’s experiences as a dark-skinned man living in South Africa.
He says the show questions some Afrophobic attitudes.
“I am quite dark in complexion and so the assumption is that I am not South African, but when they assume, that usually comes with certain negative attitudes, so I am kind of questioning that and poking fun at that amongst other things, but that’s the main thing.”
The 28 year-old, who is also an actor and journalist, says the ‘hyper-awareness’ around his skin tone started with his family.
“I happen to be by far the darkest member of my family and, as much as I enjoy playing hide and seek at night, living in South Africa can be an unwelcome adventure.”
He says he has always found an interest in translating things into a humorous context and using that to question the world around him.
“Humour for me was a defence mechanism to deal with the world because I am a very awkward person and so I navigate the world through humour and I deflect a whole lot of things, but now I think I am using it a whole lot more proactively than defensively.”
On working with Goliath, Ngubeni says, “He is actually one of my favourite South African comedians, I approached him as a director because I feel like stylistically he would be able to pick out quite interesting things or interesting places where I could take the show so it’s been really great working with him and getting feedback from him.”
A preview of the show will be held at the Meadowlands COC building on 18 June.
The proceeds will go to Tsebo Bursary Fund, an NPO that was founded by Church of Christ Young Adults in Gauteng who saw the need to financially support and mentor impoverished youth who seek to further their education.
The bursary fund's spokesperson Neo Mutuma says, “It’s an opportune time to have this fundraiser during June as it is youth month. We also plan on having a young artist, Morati Moloto, exhibiting his art and possibly auctioning one of his artworks with a percentage of the proceeds going towards the bursary fund.”
The official debut will be at the National Arts Festival, starting on 30 June.