- Category: Interesting People
- Written by Gisele Turner
When young Sibo Masondo graduated from Fulton School for the Deaf (Durban) at the end of 2013 his family were concerned for him and his future. Although he had experienced a few vocational possibilities, none of them made good use of his real talent – his ability to amuse and entertain. Born with a keen sense of humour and a charismatic personality, Sibo’s natural charm and sunny nature needed an audience. But, with no dramatic training, how was this to be realised?
Bronwyn Bower, the Deputy Principal at Fulton, had known Sibo since he was little. As Head Boy he had impressed with his sense of responsibility and his ability to communicate with everyone. Bronwyn suggested that Sibo would profit from drama training and his sponsor, Evelyn Alissandri, for whom Sibo’s mom had worked for years, came to the party.
That’s where I come into the story. Having taught drama at Fulton School for nearly 10 years in the 80’s and 90’s I had always had a yearning to develop non-verbal work with deaf artists in the professional realm. Many deaf people have a natural ability for mime as they use their bodies and hands for every day communication. Mime requires a strong, disciplined body, an expressive face, an ability to communicate emotions and a brain that works well with logic. And it helps to have a flair for the unusual and the bizarre! Sibo displayed all these abilities and it did not take long for him to create a French Mime persona Le Mot.
Laurence Olivier said that three things drive a successful career – talent, luck and stamina. Sibo certainly showed raw talent, an abundance of it, waiting to be channelled and honed. Luck was also on his side. While many young deaf people leave school without the means for further education, Sibo had a supportive family and a caring sponsor. “Sibo has a way of winning hearts,” says Evelyn. “He is warm and funny and helpful and we really wanted to give him a chance to realise his dream.”
Now photographer Paulo Menzes comes into the picture. I had met him at DUT and at Musho! Festival and was impressed with his patience and dedication and artistic genius. I suggested that he might be interested to follow Sibo’s progress and development on as a documentary that could culminate in an exhibition. He loved the idea and jumped on board.
Paulo’s beautiful photographs of Sibo as Le Mot, in full white face mime outfit, immediately made an impression on the social media. So when Wayne Scott, entertainment manager at uShaka Martine World was looking for a French Mime Artist, he did not have to look far. Not only did he give Sibo work at as the pre-show entertainer at the Dolphin Show, he also offered him a good wage. This boosted Sibo’s confidence in himself as a performing artist and shook his friends who had believed that he was just messing around.
Diversity is essential for the performing artist who needs to have a number of strings to his bow if he is to survive the vagaries and difficulties of being a self-employed artist. To this end, we have created the first of a number of shows together– work that he can tour to schools and institutions. ‘Einie Meanie Greenie GROW!’ an en eco-comedy, was launched at the Playhouse Company’s Kid’s Day, where Sibo held his audience spellbound with his comical antics. A show for children under 4 years old, ‘My Beastie’, is in the mix. He assists at Mask, Mime and Movement Workshops for students in such institutions at DUT, AFDA and High Schools, and is an intern at a Home School Art and Drama Classes, where he teaches sign language, mime and movement and helps with the art projects.
Sibo Masondo’s star is rising. September is Deaf Awareness Month and this heart- warming story reminds us of the power of the creative arts to level the playing fields and let talent speak for itself. Watch this space!
To book Sibo to perform at your school or pre-school contact GoingPlacesSA on 0832502690.