“I want to be the Narrator just like Bianca la Grange!” This was the thought etched in Mandisa Yende’s mind, as she experienced theatre for the first time, watching Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat on a Ruth First outing in May 2016. This seed has germinated and grown during her five years at school – and she is now a highly recognizable presence at Jeppe Girls.
Mandisa sparkles as she contemplates the highlights of her time at Jeppe. “I started blooming in Grade 9. That was when I put my foot down and told my Dad I had to be able to do extra murals and stay after school. Sometimes I am only picked up at 7pm, but it has been worth it.” She tried Netball – “I really wanted to be an all-rounder,” but wasn’t fit enough to make the team. She found her niche in music and drama – first choir, then Marimbas, Hlabelela, a leading role in the major production of “Sister Act”, and recognition as best director in the 2019 senior house plays.
Reflecting on her role as director: sharing the vision for the play, tough decision making on non-performers, “I had to kick them out!”, stepping into the lead role while directing (and receiving a best actress nomination), Mandisa demonstrates her clear leadership capabilities. These are endorsed by her roles as Harveya house captain, school counsellor, choir leader and captain of Marimba Beat.
Asked to select a favourite activity, she chooses Marimbas after careful consideration. “Marimbas is harder than you think. It is self-taught and there is so much space for creativity and improvisation. We have connected as a small intimate group, and to witness the growth and improvement that we’ve achieved is sheer magic.”
From Jeppe, she has learned resilience and not to limit herself or her dreams. She credits the Ruth First mentorship programme with opening up her eyes to the world around her and the opportunities on offer, as well as encouraging her to try new things such as yoga and mindfulness. She relishes the supportive energetic spirited atmosphere of Jeppe Girls, “where we are always cheering for each other, and it’s so natural to be proud of others.”
It comes as no surprise that Mandisa’s wish is to study Performing Arts at UCT or UP next year. Her ideal would be to incorporate Music into Drama as her passion lies in Musical Theatre.
In these uncertain times, it is refreshing to be reminded of the abundance of talent, potential and positive energy in the world – as personified by Mandisa Yende. Go girl!