Off Balance

Physical Theatre
Written, produced and performed by Mlindeli ZONDI | Composed and performed by Jack MOLOI | Directed by Tebogo MACHABA | Dramaturgy by Lotanang MAKOTI | Choregraphed by Daniel BUCKLAND | Lighting design and stage managed by Jubulile MANGQANGWANE | Marketing managed by Neo Rose MAHLALA
17 VL

Can Black pain be sold? We follow the story of a world-renowned protest circus performer, who battles with the seeming contradiction of the world of artistry with the commercial world. We put a magnifying glass to his rollercoaster ride as he struggles with survival guilt, imposter syndrome and loneliness. He interrogates his identity as a black man in the white world. He feels like he is caught in limbo as he runs faster but goes no-where slowly. We follow his voyage as he seeks for peace, and healing in a world that is off axis.


The Seed of the Concept

When you are an artist or creative you become an outcast within society, even though you are part of the community.  This is because you become a social critic of human behaviour and the rules that govern us as a species.  You have a bird's eye view, and this perspective provokes an attempt at understanding the depth of the matter.

Our first point of departure was to look into the so-called safe space of theatre - a place of personal expression. for us the question that arose was: if theatre's philosophy is that we as artists have a duty to reflect on the world we live in in order to bring about change to this world, how can do this without first reflecting on the creative industry within which we exist? How can an industry that impacts us as artists negatively expect us to inspire change and healing in the world? We must surely clean our own house first.

This conversation was started by Daniel Buckland at the National Arts Festival who was reflecting on a world-renowned performer who was struggling with mental health and substance abuse. And how this is a narrative shared by many artists.  I had no idea that soon after I too would become part of this narrative when I had a mental breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric ward for three months.

Being diagnosed and living with schizophrenia I found my healing by sharing my story within the broader context of the monopoly that governs our industry. And how our industry reflects the modern fabric of South African social economics under the umbrella of democracy.    

Artistic Treatment

Poetic, cynical, surreal, Off Balance is a dark comedy that through its use of physicality, dance, mime, acrobatics and circus work explores how trauma can be released from the body.

Inspired by the World of the Clown:

Drown in the world of the fool. As humans we are fixated in happiness, but the clown cracks open the vulnerability, failure, suffering, humiliation, despair and loneliness of our human condition.