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Digital Programme: To What End

Two performers sing while leaning into each other.

The Centre for the Less Good Idea: To What End
Thu 6 – Sun 9 Oct 2022, The Pit

Welcome to the Barbican. It’s a pleasure to be able to share the extraordinary work that is coming out of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, the visionary incubator based in Mabobeng, Johannesburg founded by William Kentridge and colleagues. The Pit has always been a place for experimentation, so this multidisciplinary programme in which artists are encouraged to follow their impulses and pursue the incidental discoveries they find when creating work feels like the perfect fit for our studio space. Earlier this year we presented William Kentridge’s chamber opera SIBYL in the Barbican Theatre so we’re delighted to be able to continue this relationship. You can also see William’s work this autumn at both the Royal Academy of Arts and the Goodman Gallery, our partners for this presentation. Finally, we’d like to acknowledge the generous support of Wendy Fisher, A4 Arts Foundation and Naomi Milgrom AC for their help in funding this presentation. Thank you for joining us.

Toni Racklin,
Head of Theatre and Dance, Barbican


In 2016, William Kentridge and Bronwyn Lace founded The Centre for the Less Good Idea: a space for responsive thinking through experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts practices based in Maboneng, Johannesburg. The Centre has quickly gathered momentum and by 2022 has become a formative space for arts projects in South Africa and beyond. Between 2016 and 2022 over 400 individual performances, films and installations have been created and shown at The Centre, and more than 700 artists of all disciplines have worked on projects at The Centre.

To What End at the Barbican consists of six inspiring short performances. They blend dance and live music and are developed by leading South African artists through The Centre’s programming. This curated programme features diverse performances from a range of disciplines including a captivating all-female chorus, as well as rhythmic dance and a physical theatre solo. The innovative performances use text, sound, music, movement and visuals in experimental ways to explore themes of social and political change in South Africa.

Bronwyn Lace
Co-Founder and Director of The Centre for the Less Good Idea

Creative team

For The Centre for the Less Good Idea

Founder William Kentridge
Co-Founder and Director Bronwyn Lace
Animateur Phala Ookeditse Phala
Dramaturg Bongile Lecoge-Zulu
Lighting Designer Wesley France
Sound Engineer Zain Vally
Stage Manager Dimakatso Motholo
Production photos by Zivanai Matangi


Thulisile Binda
Anathi Conjwa
Asanda Hanabe
Zandile Hlatshwayo

Micca Manganye
Sibahle Mangena
Buhle Mazibuko

Vusi Mdoyi
Tony Bonani Miyambo

Volley Nchabeleng
Molebogeng Phiri
Thabo Rapoo

Muzi Shili

Director (UmthandazoFaniswa Yisa

For the Barbican


Chief Executive Officer Claire Spencer 
Artistic Director Will Gompertz 
Director of Operations and Buildings Jonathon Poyner 
Director of Development Natasha Harris 
Director of People, Inclusion and Culture Ali Mirza 
Senior Executive Assistant to Claire Spencer and Will Gompertz Jo Daly

Theatre Department 

Head of Theatre and Dance Toni Racklin  
Senior Production Manager Simon Bourne 
Producers Leanne Cosby, Jill Shelley and Fiona Stewart 
Assistant Producers Anna Dominian, Saxon Mudge and Mali Siloko 
Production Managers Jamie Maisey and Lee Tasker 
Technical Managers Steve Daly, Jane Dickerson, Nik Kennedy, Martin Morgan and Stevie Porter  
Stage Managers Lucinda Hamlin and Charlotte Oliver 
Technical Supervisors John Gilroy, Jamie Massey, Adam Parrott, Tom Salmon and Chris Wilby 
PA to Head of Theatre David Green 
Production Administrator Caroline Hall 
Production Assistant Andrew Pellett 
Technicians Kendell Foster, Burcham Johnson, Christian Lyons, Charlie Mann, Josh Massey, Matt Nelson, Heather Readdy and Lawrence Sills 
Stage Door Julian Fox and aLbi Gravener 
Creative Learning Producer Lauren Brown 
Creative Learning Assistant Producer Rikky Onefeli 
Marketing Manager (Theatre) Kyle Bradshaw 
Marketing Assistant (Theatre) Rebecca Moore  
Acting Communications Manager (Theatre) Freddie Todd Fordham 
Communications Intern Sumayyah Sheikh 

The Programme

The use of sound, rhythm, and the inherent language of the body tell a tale of land dispossession, governance decay, and power absolution, as the typewriter carries the score. (10 minutes)

Performers Vusi Mdoyi, Volley Nchabeleng, Micca Manganye, Thabo Rapoo and Muzi Shili
Conceptualiser and Director Vusi Mdoyi
Choreographers Vusi Mdoyi and Thabo Rapoo
Musicians Volley Nchabeleng and Micca Manganye
Costume Designers Greta Goiris, Emmanuelle Erhart and SO Academy Costume Mentees

The Weep of Whips
A breathtakingly physical two-hander seeking to find power in brokenness, in which the sjambok (whip) is used as a tool for instruction, musicality, and performance. (10 minutes)

Performers Thulisile Binda and Micca Manganye
Conceptualiser and Choreographer Thulisile Binda
Musician Micca Manganye
Costume Designers Nthabiseng Malaka and Natalie Paneng

Commission Continua
Live looped audio mirrors the monotony of government inquiry – an endless and impersonal cycle of clearing throats and ‘yes Chair, no Chair’ answers as paper becomes a shrewd and incisive metaphor. The work traces the history of some of South Africa’s many commissions of inquiry – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Marikana Commission of Inquiry being two of the most infamous. (15 minutes)

Performer Tony Bonani Miyambo
Conceptualisers Tony Bonani Miyambo and Phala Ookeditse Phala
Director Phala Ookeditse Phala

Sounds of Limpopo
A two-person musical performance that sees the use of instruments and bodies being used to both replicate and pay tribute to the various sounds and narratives of South Africa’s northernmost province. (20 minutes)

Conceptualisers and Performers Micca Manganye and Volley Nchabeleng

Pitsana grapples with the conventions of responsibility, duty and labour. It is a story that posits the consequences of a physical and psychological repression of energy. (10 minutes)

Performers Thabo Rapoo, Thulisile Binda, Sibahle Mangena and Muzi Shili
Conceptualiser and Choreographer Thulisile Binda
Director Phala Ookeditse Phala
Musicians Micca Manganye and Muzi Shili
Costume Designers Nthabiseng Malaka and Natalie Paneng

An all-women ensemble of striking musicality come together in the performance of Umthandazo, taking its lead from the often-overlooked victims of the 2012 Marikana Massacre. (10 minutes)

Performers Asanda Hanabe, Buhle Mazibuko, Molebogeng Phiri, Sibahle Mangena, Zandile Hlatshwayo and Anathi Conjwa.
Director Faniswa Yisa
Costumer Designers Greta Goiris, Emmanuelle Erhart and SO Academy Costume Mentees

Discover more

Two performers smile as they make music using instruments together.

The Centre for the Less Good Idea

Discover more about The Centre for the Less Good Idea, William Kentridge's cultural incubator in Johannesburg, a place for the creation and support of experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts projects.


The six performances that comprise To What End are drawn from various seasons of collaborative and interdisciplinary work incubated and developed at The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Together, they traverse the themes of language, identity, spirituality, history and healing, all specific to, but not bound by the South African context from which they emerge.

Works such as Footnotes, Sounds of Limpopo and Umthandazo, while distinct in their form and subject matter, all draw back to the central question of how to perform text on stage. There are explorations of the power of words, of text, to radically shift and impact lives – both physically and spiritually – and of music as the language of one’s home.

William Kentridge, founder of The Centre for the Less Good Idea and co-curator of its seventh season reflected on these works: ‘What are the ways of transforming a text designed to be read, into a performance on stage? Is it necessary to make this change (of text to performance)? Is there anything to be gained in this process? These are not questions we asked ourselves. Rather we said, Let this be a provocation, let us see what emerges.’

A reclamation of self and a journey towards healing are some of the thematic pursuits of Pitsana and The Weep of Whips, two works that emerged from The Centre’s eighth season, created in response to the themes of breath and mythology. Season curator Bongile Lecoge-Zulu explained that while these provocations lend a solemn underpinning to the works, there is also a commitment to the humorous, the joyful, the fantastical and the absurd in equal measure. ‘In the tradition of The Centre, [these works] embrace the methodology of performance in process, and pursue the secondary, the incidental, and the emergent idea.’

Finally, Commission Continua, a performance incubated as a short-form epic during The Centre’s fifth season before being developed into a longer piece, speaks to the history of South Africa’s commissions of inquiry. Here, paper becomes a shrewd and incisive metaphor in a performance that embodies the extraordinary pain and heavy histories of seemingly ordinary people. The play’s protagonist, government archives and records keeper Bright Mazibuko, comes to question the idea of reason without empathy, and tries to make sense of human obsession with violent crime: ‘Our inquiries are so important that we commission them. We record and then we print them for our mental landfills and repeat the chorus of our trauma. We are a state obsessed with the process of how we scratch our heads.’

Phala Ookeditse Phala, Animateur for The Centre and director of Commission Continua, explained that at the heart of the performance is an essential question: ‘Where is the voice of the victim? Commission after commission, it is lost in the testimonies, statements, affidavits, addendums and evidence. Text on text, on text, on text…’

The performances in To What End do not provide any neat resolutions. Rather, they are charged by a series of questions and pursuits, a constant attempt at making sense of the world, its heavy histories and contemporary realities.

David Mann

Find the Less Good Idea

If the good doctor can’t cure you, find the less good doctor.

The Centre for the Less Good Idea is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Founded by William Kentridge and Bronwyn Lace in 2016, it is a physical and immaterial space to pursue incidental discoveries made in the process of producing new work. The Centre is a space to follow impulses, connections and revelations. It is a physical performance space for artists to come together and for curators to bring together combinations of text, movement, sound and image. The Centre nurtures the act of playing with an idea to allow for recognising those things you didn’t know in advance: the secondary ideas, those less good ideas coined to address the first idea’s cracks.

The amusing and grammatically awkward Tswana proverb (translated by the great Sol Plaatjie in his book of 732 Setswana proverbs in 1916*): If the good doctor can’t cure you, find the less good doctor’, goes a long way to describing the interests at The Centre. Secondary pursuits, collective and collaborative artistic process are celebrated at The Centre and are that to which it gives its attention and resources.

The Centre believes an ensemble sees the world differently from how one individual does. It is a safe space for failure, for projects to be tried and discarded because they do not work. It’s a space for short-form work which doesn’t have a natural home in a theatre or gallery.

In early 2020, SO | The Academy for the Less Good Idea was launched. The Centre, in its collaborative and multidisciplinary approach, has recognised a powerful yet unforced learning that takes place between practitioners in the building of Seasons and programmes.

* From a book titled ‘Sechuana Proverbsby Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (9 October 1876 – 19 June 1932). Plaatje was a South African intellectual, journalist, linguist, politician, translator and writer. The book contains 732 Setswana proverbs from the Tswana people of Southern Africa, their translations and their European equivalents.

Blue Rubics

The Centre’s visual identity is based on William Kentridge’s ‘Blue Rubrics,’ a series he began after receiving a gift of pure lapis lazuli gouache from Afghanistan. In order to find a use for the vivid blue pigment he approached it in terms of its specific colour and material, eventually mixing it into ink to overlay silkscreen prints. In William’s words, ‘They are called Blue Rubrics, but a rubric really should be red – a rubric was the printed or illuminated red text in a liturgical manuscript, in which the black ink would have been the text of the liturgy and the red would have been instructions on how to pray. So they are footnotes to a thought, the edges of the thought. In my case they are unsolved riddles, phrases which hover at the edge of making sense, these are fragments of sentences which sit in a drawer of phrases used in other work over the years, they get taken out and sorted through on occasions.’

The words 'The Centre for the Less Good Idea' are overlaid against pages from a book.


Thulisile Binda
Performer, Conceptualiser and Choreographer (The Weep of Whips and Pitsana)
Thulisile Binda is an interdisciplinary dancer, performer and choreographer with an innovative, intuitive and collaborative approach to performance. Her work is charged with a responsive fluidity and is driven by the inherent narrative of the body.

Anathi Conjwa
Performer (Umthandazo)
Anathi Conjwa was born and raised in the Eastern Cape, and is a singer-songwriter, actor, model, theatre-maker and mental health advocate. Conjwa is the co-founder of the theatre company Intsusa, whose work includes writing and performing the international award-winning theatre piece A Place of Knowing. Conjwa prides herself with constantly exploring and collaborating across different artistic mediums. 

Asanda Hanabe
Performer (Umthandazo)
Asanda Hanabe is an actress, singer, dancer, stage manager and voiceover artist. Her on-screen appearances include the short films Umgoma Emoyeni directed by Mmabatho Montsho, and Isidima by Mlingane Dube and the TV series The Final Cut, Generations: The Legacy and The Queen

Zandile Hlatshwayo
Performer (Umthandazo)
Zandile Hlatshwayo is a singer, composer, and performing artist whose artistic background ranges from drama to musical theory and sees her increasingly merging sound and physicality through varying genres of performance. She is well known for both her striking musical performance and her interest in collaborative theatrical performance. 

Micca Manganye
Performer and Musician (Footnotes) / Performer (The Weep of Whips) / Conceptualiser and Performer (Sounds of Limpopo) / Musician (Pitsana)
Micca Manganye is a Johannesburg-based musician and performer specialising in percussion and live performance. The restorative and healing possibilities of music and performance are of particular interest to Manganye; he has also been exploring the relationship between work and play in the act of percussion.

Sibahle Mangena
Performer (Pitsana and Umthandazo)
Sibahle Mangena is a five-time Naledi-nominated actor, writer, voiceover artist and theatre-maker with an interest in body movement and text. She graduated from the Market Theatre Laboratory in Practical Performance and Theatre-making in 2017. Her focus has always been on experimentation with the grotesque, play, emotion, physicality and vocal preparation as principles of embodied performance. Her main focus is to create new work through devising, workshopping and improvisation.

Buhle Mazibuko
Performer (Umthandazo)
Buhle Mazibuko is an actor, writer, and aspiring director who performs across stage and TV. Following her training at Duma Ndlovu Academy and Durban University of Technology, Mazibuko has become best-known for her role as the notorious character Nomasonto on the South African drama series Skeem Saam. In addition to her television work, Mazibuko is also a dedicated theatre-maker.

Vusi Mdoyi
Performer, Conceptualiser, Choreographer and Director (Footnotes)
Vusi Mdoyi is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, artistic director, and pantsula; and the founding director of VAP Dance Academy and Studios, a pivotal Katlehong Township first Dance Academy and Studio that trains young people in Katlehong Township. Mdoyi is also a co-founding Director of Impilo Mapantsula Global Movement, a structure that unites, promotes, researches, documents and contributes towards building industry standards around the culture of pantsula.

Tony Bonani Miyambo
Performer and Conceptualiser (Commission Continua)
Tony Bonani Miyambo is an actor, theatre-maker and BADA Graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Miyambo has been a key collaborator and contributor at The Centre for the Less Good Idea since its debut season in 2017. His body of work includes acclaimed solo performances The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri, Commission Continua, and multiple-international-award winning Kafkas Ape. In 2012, Miyambo was awarded the Brett Goldin Award and studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon.

Volley Nchabeleng
Performer and Musician (Footnotes) / Performer and Conceptualiser (Sounds of Limpopo)
Volley Nchabeleng is a multi-talented and versatile percussionist. Nchabeleng studied African music at Sibikwa Arts Centre from 2001, before pursuing music further through UNISA and going on to work with Drama for Life for five years as a playback theatre musician, producer and composer. His musical achievements come from a versatile perspective and he is influenced by diverse, global sounds.

Molebogeng Phiri
Performer (Umthandazo)
Molebogeng Phiri is an actor who studied at the Market Theatre Laboratory. Phiri has worked in both TV and theatre, with her most recent performances taking place at The Centre for the Less Good Idea where she was able to further explore her interests in intuitive and collaborative performance across a multitude of disciplines.

Thabo Rapoo
Performer and Choreographer (Footnotes) / Performer (Pitsana)
Thabo Rapoo is a Pretoria-based dancer, choreographer, and performing artist. Thabo Rapoo cites the act of observation as a crucial factor to his creative process. As a result, much of his work is concerned with human nature – how we move through certain spaces, as well as our various forms of non-verbal communication. Interdisciplinarity, humour and the tacit knowledge of the body are also central to his work.

Muzi Shili
Performer (Footnotes) / Musician (Pitsana)

Muzi Shili is a dancer, performer, dance teacher and a composer of African contemporary melodies. Shili was born and bred in Tembisa, and prides himself on passing on the knowledge and wisdom in the arts and life itself to the younger generation within the arts. Exploring the inherent language and possibility of the human body on stage is central to his practice.

Faniswa Yisa
Director (Umthandazo)
Faniswa Yisa is a multi-award-winning actor, director, theatre-maker, and producer who has performed in 19 countries. With a background in physical theatre, Yisa’s interests lie firmly with the body – what its capabilities are as a vehicle for narrative, as well as how people interpret the body when they view it on stage or in the public space.

For The Centre for the Less Good Idea
William Kentridge
William Kentridge is a draughtsman, performer, filmmaker, and the founder of The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre, and opera productions. Embracing collaboration and cross-pollination of various media and genres, including performance, film, literature, and more, his work frequently responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, within the context of South Africa's socio-political landscape. Erasure, play, uncertainty, and a process-led methodology are also central to his practice. A background in theatre, as well as his early experimentations with stop-motion animation continue to inform and characterise much of the work he produces today, be it for the stage, the gallery, in the studio or the lecture hall.

For Kentridge, The Centre for the Less Good Idea is a space that is partially informed by his own artistic practice and processes, while also affording him a space to experiment and collaborate with fellow artists, performers, and ways of working. It is this ability to be both in and outside of The Centre that sees Kentridge working to hold, inform, question, and draw out the seemingly disparate lines of thought that are necessary agitators and animators for the particular kinds of work that take shape in the mixed-media terrain of the space.

Bronwyn Lace
Co-Founder and Director
Bronwyn Lace is a visual artist who has collaborated with William Kentridge on the founding and establishing of The Centre for the Less Good Idea. For Lace, who currently works between Austria and South Africa, her artistic practice is concerned with the relationship between art and other fields such as physics, literature, philosophy, museum practice and education. Site-specificity, responsiveness and performativity are also central to her practice, and have informed a great deal of her early work. Similarly, a balance between an isolated, introspective studio process and a collaborative, communal process sees Lace embracing incidental discoveries underpinned by an informed pursuit of new ideas.       

Phala Ookeditse Phala
Animateur / Conceptualiser and Director (Commission Continua) / Director (Pitsana)
Phala Ookeditse Phala is a multi-award-winning storymaker in the form of a theatre-maker and director, whose works have won awards in South Africa, USA, Czech Republic and Australia. Phala holds a Masters in Dramatic Arts from Wits University. His works champion emotional and psychologically-stimulating storytelling as a uniquely African aesthetic. His focus and interest are on methodologies of making and creating work in ways that collapse and disrupt conventional norms.

Bongile Lecoge-Zulu

Bongile Lecoge-Zulu is a frequent performer, curator and mentor at The Centre for the Less Good Idea. She works with and across contemporary performance, music, theatre, education, writing and curation. Lecoge-Zulu has performed in ensembles, bands and theatres across Southern Africa and Europe and is currently involved in multiple experimental interdisciplinary projects wherein much of her investigation has to do with possibilities generated by merging music with other art forms. Her practice is therefore deeply collaborative, collective and generative.

Wesley France
Lighting Designer

Wesley France has more than 35 years’ experience in lighting design and technical coordination for the performing arts in the international arena. He has been a freelance lighting designer and technical production manager for numerous local and international productions and has worked extensively with William Kentridge and Handspring Puppet Company among others and is currently part of the team at The Centre for the Less Good Idea.

Zain Vally
Sound Engineer

Zain Vally is a multidisciplinary sound engineer, location recorder, and the Sound Engineer for The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Vally works extensively in the music industry and is an accredited recording engineer on Beyoncé’s album, The Lion King: The Gift. He also holds location recording credits for documentaries and TV shows such as Stony Hill to Addis, Yo! MTV Raps Africa, and Gqom Nation. Having gravitated toward music from a young age, Vally pursued a diploma in Audio Technology and Post-Production from the Academy of Sound Engineering in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

Dimakatso Motholo
Stage Manager
Dimakatso Motholo is a performing artist, production, stage, project manager, and researcher in cultural policy and arts management with a focus on cultural entrepreneurship. Motholo occupies a hybrid position, whereby she holds the majority of all the departments in the organisation, working between administration and person-orientated work: liaising with artists and production, overseeing the various physical spaces at The Centre, and working to ensure that processes run smoothly for production teams, curators, and collaborators alike.


Presented by the Barbican

Produced by The Centre for the Less Good Idea in partnership with THE OFFICE performing arts + film. Funded with the generous support of Wendy Fisher, A4 Arts Foundation and Naomi Milgrom AC, with special thanks to Goodman Gallery.

Special thanks to the team at the Kentridge Studio: Linda Leibowitz, Natalie Dembo, Anne McIlleron, Anne Blom, Chris-Waldo de Wet, Jacques van Staden, Joey Netshiombo, Diego Sillands and Thandi Mzizi Nkabinde.