Sifiso Mabena Of New Victory LabWorks Talks Diasporic Identity, Healing Through Theater, New Works With Staten Islander News

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Sifiso Mabena is a multidisciplinary artist, playwright, puppeteer, and deviser. She sat down with Staten Islander News Organization to speak about her current project, as well as her influences, cultural heritage, and other topics.

Sifiso is originally from Zimbabwe, and discusses her cultural background, growing up in Zimbabwe, and how things are both different and the same in the US as in her home country.

Zimbabwe is known as a developing nation, and has a lot of potential. However, things have changed there since she was younger. At this point, it is very difficult to live there, and there is no longer a middle class. There are only the ultra wealthy and those who live in poverty. There is no in between.

Sifiso discusses being an immigrant, as well a being a diasporic identity, and what that means in her life. She talks about the true meaning of consent and of respect, and of how we all need one another. In her words, “Your success is my success,… and my success is your success…”


Sifiso discussed being a diasporic identity, as well as her experience being an immigrant, and how her life experiences have shaped her work. As a multidisciplinary artist, Sifiso is able to combine many different elements into a type of theatrical pastiche, a type of collage in theatrical performance.

Sifiso’s art shares a much needed perspective, and is influenced and informed by feminism, equity, and ideas of respect, equality, and giving a voice to the voiceless.

Sifiso uses her art and plays to learn about herself, to connect with the audience, and to bring a special type of healing to the audience that can often only be accessed through artistic disciplines. She seeks to help people connect with themselves and with each other through experiencing our shared humanity, and coming to terms with our own shortcomings and failings, learning acceptance, and moving on to healing.

There is something particularly moving about theater, where studies have shown that seeing plays in particular gives children a very unique opportunity to learn about themselves and others, which often cannot be accessed through other disciplines.

As this has become more accepted in society, we see schools beginning to understand the importance of artistic disciplines among all age groups, being followed by an increase in art programs, particularly in schools across NYC (article link).

Sifiso is working on several works in progress at New Victory LabWorks, including putting on new plays, and we look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.


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