School of Arts Appoints New Lecturer
The School of Arts on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus welcomed new Lecturer in the Department of Drama and Performance Studies, Ms Pumelela Nqelenga.
Nqelenga said she was excited to be joining the academic staff, at a time when she sensed “transitioning”, especially in the Drama Department. ‘It excited me because I’ll be a part of a new beginning.
‘I love the fact we are entering the phase where a lot of African students are interested in Drama, which is very rare where I come from and that means we have to teach Drama differently and see it differently, because our students see it differently.’
Nqelenga (26) holds three qualifications from Rhodes University - a Bachelor of Journalism, a BA Honours in Physical Theatre, Applied Theatre and Contemporary Performance, and an MA in Contemporary Performance.
She said she appreciated the familiarity and shared cultural context at UKZN. ‘Here, there are beautiful cultural references that I resonate with, and this is a space I enjoy and have always wanted to be in.’
Nqelenga’s interest in African performance and UKZN’s hunger for African Scholarship meant that she had found a space where she could make a valuable contribution. ‘I enjoy finding the definition of “African Scholarship” in this Department - what do we mean by African Scholarship in theatre? What do we mean by ‘African’ in the pedagogical way in which we can approach theatre studies through African roots?’ she asked.
Nqelenga’s passion for performance studies stems from her grandmother, who was an Igqirha (traditional healer).
‘I was so intrigued by the dancing and the performance of Amagqirha that all I wanted to be in my life was Igqirha – just because I can dance and could perform like that,’ explained Nqelenga.
Nqelenga performed at the National Arts Festival earlier this year in a production titled Inqindi, which won a Standard Bank Ovation Award. She has also worked with well-known performance artist Gavin Krastin; creative director of Artscape in Cape Town, Mandla Mbothwe; as well as UKZN alumnus and creative director, Rob Murray.
She is currently working on two research papers. One is based on her production Release which looks at social memory, collective memory and collected memory of violence, while the other is about her current production Xeno which examines ‘constructions of “otherness” and how we construct foreignness in each other every day,’ she said.