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For more information contact: Kemati Porter

Phone: (773) 752-3955

Email: kematip@etacreativearts.org



Chicago, Illinois (March 16, 2017) Sibongile Mkhabela, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and the only woman among 11 student leaders arrested in connection with the 1976 Soweto student uprisings, will be at eta for a performance of her daughter Ntsako Mkhabela’s play, By the Apricot Trees, on Saturday, March 25, 8 pm. A post-show conversation with follow immediately after the performance. The play is Ntsako’s reflections on her mother’s life during the struggle for freedom in South Africa. It was inspired by Sibongile’s imprisonment and torture at the hands of the apartheid regime’s security police.

The play tells the story of TK, the only female among 11 high school students who were arrested and sentenced to jail after South African police opened fire on a peaceful student demonstration in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto in 1976, killing and wounding hundreds of black children who were protesting the forced use of Afrikaans instead of their native languages for instruction in black schools.

Alone in a cold prison cell with a bucket and a light bulb called “Alfred,” TK is seemingly forgotten and must fight to recall her humanity. All she has are memories of the life she lived before going to prison in the form of Thandeka, who confronts her personal and political convictions and challenges her to negotiate the reality and effects of solitary confinement. The play is based on the true-life experiences of Ms. Mkhabela’s mother during her fight for freedom.

By the Apricot Trees runs weekends at eta, February 24 through April 2. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 3:00 pm (7:00 pm when booked).  General admission is $35 and discount tickets are available for seniors ($25), students ($15), and groups. eta Creative Arts Foundation is located at 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. For tickets, group rates and more information call (773) 752-3955.

This play is in part a daughter’s attempt to understand her mother; not as she is, but the young girl who gave up her time of being a teenager to fight for democracy.” Ntsako

“This story of teenage political imprisonment is a journey of vulnerability, rage and resolve to survive by letting go of memory.” Kemati J.

 Featuring: Alicia Watley as TK, Jelani E. Smith as Thandeka. Nakia Allen is production Understudy.







Sibongile MkhabelaMs-Chief Executive Officer of Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital since 2001. Ms. Mkhabela has been instrumental in growing the Fund’s endowment. Her philosophy on children has extended the focus of the Fund beyond the borders of South Africa into the SADC region. She has been Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital Trust since November 1, 2010.

Ntsako Mkhabela-Writer/Director

Ntsako Mkhabela is a graduate in Dramatic Artists and Development Sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand. Mkhabela’s work is largely inspired by Chinua Achebe who tasks the African writer with the responsibility to re-imagine reality and present what is not heard or what could be. Mkhabela has worked in the theatre as a writer, director, actor and manager. In 2006 she managed We Shall Sing for the Fatherland, From Nowhere and Sunday at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the 969 Festival. By the Apricot Trees won the Percy Tucker Prize and has been performed at Windy Brow Theatre, Wits Theatre, National Arts Festival and Constitution Hill.

Kemati J. Porter, Director

Recently named Producing Artistic Director of eta Creative Arts Foundation, Kemati served as eta’s Interim Executive Director 2014-2016, and Producing Director from 2007-2014. eta received numerous BTAA, BAA and Jeff recommendations and awards under her program tenure. She received her BA from Columbia College Chicago and was the recipient of the Michael Maggio Directing Scholarship at The Theatre School of DePaul University, were she received her MFA in Directing. Served as artistic associate and TCG Fellow at McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ, from 2003-2007, former Artistic Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural and Performing Arts Center in Columbus OH, and theatre instructor and lecturer for The Theatre School and Chicago State University.

Recent directing credits include, In De Beginnin’ by Oscar Brown Jr., and Migration by Michael Bradford. Kemati is a graduate of The Theatre School of DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago, and has been associated with eta Creative Arts Foundation since 1976.