Despite her budding career in playwriting, directing local theatre productions and helping numerous local plays with execution; the youthful and award-winning Neelo Lentebanye (24) remains buoyant that her toils will soon feature internationally for her to benchmark, be inspired and network. Among her many anticipated shows include the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Arts Alive Festival in South Africa, and the Harare International Festival (HIFA) in Zimbabwe to name but a few.
Speaking exclusively to #BotswanaUnplugged immediately after hosting a workshop/lecture about the theatrics of theatre and plays at Maharaja in Gaborone recently, Lentebanye explained how she has directed and taken part in over 16 productions during her course of study has further taken electives in Journalism, Public Relations and Marketing.
“I am a theatre avant-garde, greatly passionate about uplifting and empowering women through art,” she said.
Her extensive profile spreads as far as being the co-founder and Art Director of Women in Arts Trust, a non-governmental organization that focuses on tackling women issues through performance arts and workshops. Lentebanye, who graduated from the University of Botswana (UB) with BA in Fine Arts (Theatre) in 2016 is also a published writer and poet, currently freelancing at Petlo Literary Artists.
She won the best Playwright Award in the 2017 President’s Day Competitions. She also produced and directed a play during the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children Abuse in 2017 commemorations.
“I have also scripted a play for First National Bank (FNB) Botswana when they launched their drug and alcohol policy under Mandy Promotions and also produced a script titled ‘A Road to Self-Rule’ (under Petlo Literary Artists) for the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development during the BOT50 Independence Anniversary Celebrations,” said Lentebanye summarily.
Also vividly passionate about her voice, Lentebanye has done numerous radio adverts for Gender Affairs Department including Invent Events.
She was also the voice behind the Barclays Madi Majwana Radio Drama under the Company at Maitisong for season 2 and 3 that aired on both Duma FM and Yarona FM respectively.
“I am fascinated by creativity in general. I have expanded to do other works that require creative skills. I have worked for Abi Films as an assistant Production Manager for the Homecoming Orange TV Commercial. I further directed a Guerrilla Marketing activation project using theatre with Native Impressions and BITC for Global Expo Botswana (2017).”
Lentebanye has also adjudicated for the University of Botswana (UB) competitions in 2015 in both the Drama and Poetry categories. Furthermore, Lentebanye has also judged during the Children Performing Arts Botswana’s (CHIPABO) 2017 countrywide auditions. Continuing with her hard work, she has also been fortunate to be in a panel of judges for the 2017 Makgaolakgang Theatre Challenge held at Maitisong Theatre.
Her creativity awards have further given her opportunities to work in other fields as well. Lentebanye is currently practicing event management and planning at the University of Botswana (UB) Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation.
She is also passionate to explore talent management as well as entrepreneurship. Thus all this combined has prompted her to relay her knowledge to others.
In her earnest view, Botswana has multitalented individual artists but usually lack the creativity ‘vavoom’ as productions continue to have the same monotonous storylines.
She is not bothered by the raging testosterone and male dominance in the local theatre industry and has avowed to dominate the game and change mindsets.
“I want to change that perception. It’s not really male dominated as people tend to think: in the fact males are the ones who have leadership positions and women usually fall behind the scenes and don’t challenge themselves to take directorship positions. My motivation is just passion, I love the arts and I really believe we can actually make a living out of our talents in Botswana. I have hope that they really can contribute a lot to the country’s economy as seen in many countries. Our standard is really low, in terms of quality. That’s why there’s need for workshops such as this one we’re conducting sponsored by the youth ministry. Generally people have talent and passion but they lack discipline, hard work and creativity. Every year in and out, productions are the same and this has to change.”