Tseleng: the Baggage of Bags

Written and performed by Mbali Kgosidintsi
Workshopped by Mbali Kgosidintsi and Sara Matchett
Directed by Sara Matchett

Tseleng: The Baggage of Bags is inspired by Mbali’s personal narrative. She grew up traveling from city to city and as a young adult she traveled the world. To her, home has transcended into a concept and not a physical place. The memories of her childhood are filled with images of packing and unpacking bags. This memory inspired the making of this play. The metaphor of bags containing lived experience was the starting point.

Stories contained in bags of all shapes, styles and sizes soon began to write themselves. Director, Sara Matchett, facilitated a process of uncovering Mbali’s memory-moments, starting from birth to present. She made extensive use of mapping to remind the cells of Mbali’s body what stories were living in them. Body mapping, journey mapping, collaging and writing, all formed part of this archaeological-like process. The second phase of the process involved Mbali piecing these stories and moments into a script, which culminated in the third phase of putting it onto the floor.

The production is interwoven by a mythical narrative that echoes the book of stories, which Mbali’s mother passed down to her. These stories keep her grounded and remind her that no matter how far she goes, home seems to get closer.

Tseleng: The Baggage of Bags is about journeying to re-discover and re-member the magic of myths that shape us. The making of this play has, in many ways, led both Mbali and Sara to reflect on what it means to stop, stay put and let go of baggage.

The production tells the story of living in transit and the transition into womanhood. This is a journey through the nomadic life of someone who is forced to look at her fragmented past in order to sculpt an identity. This is a truly modern, contemporary, South African story, which interrogates themes of identity, language, notions of home and social positioning versus personal ambition. Mbali and Sara believe that it is a story that speaks to many. Issues of identity and notions of home are universal themes that are particularly pertinent in the contemporary world, where migration and social positioning are commonplace.

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Tseleng: the Baggage of Bags

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