Nobuhle Manana spent the first weekend of May in Cape Town, participating in her second National Acting Competition for High School Learners. The competition took place at the Artscape Theatre Centre, and was the 17th annual event of its kind.
Nobuhle is a matric student at Hoërskool Oosterland who joined the competition when one of her teachers identified her acting potential in Grade 10. Earlier this year, she and hundreds of other South African students went through an audition process which required them to prepare a performed poem and prose.
“My interest in drama started with my participation in the Eistedfodd,” Nobuhle said. “Ms Oosthuizen is an excellent drama teacher, and she was the one who enrolled me in the competition in Grade 10.” Nobuhle was surprised to find that she it made it past the audition phase. From then onwards, her talent expanded.
At the national competition this year, 60 students were selected (out of the estimated 700 who auditioned) to perform a monologue in front of a panel of judges made up of renowned actors. “It’s so exciting to be amongst so many of your talented peers,” Nobuhle said. “You really feel a sense of belonging in your drama community.”
Lerika Oosthuizen, who also accompanied Nobuhle on her trip, said that the school was proud to have a student participating in the prestigious event. “I think she has a bright future in drama; I’d love to see her join an agency and take this talent further, because she’s more than capable of that,” she said.
Nobuhle, however, also has plans of studying medicine and becoming a doctor. When asked if she would be able to juggle the intimidating combo of being a doctor and an actress, she confidently replied “why not?”
“I want to be the next Shonda Rhimes,” Nobuhle said. For readers who are unfamiliar with the name, Shonda Rhimes is an American television producer, screenwriter and author. Rhimes is the creator, head writer and executive producer of TV dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal.
With the confidence in which Nobuhle carries herself, it’s not difficult to imagine her following in these footsteps. Even stage fright, which grips most of us at our throats, is not much of a factor to her. “When I’m on the stage, I’m not myself, I am my character, so I don’t feel afraid,” she said. “If I were playing myself, then maybe I’d be shy because that’s how I am. But my characters are not shy, so it doesn’t come across.”
Since this is Nobuhle’s final year of high school, she will no longer participate in this specific competition, but she had a good run and is ready to take her craft further. We have no doubt that she is able to do this.