Sibuyiselo Dywili, 17, from Bloekombos, who is featuring in a lead role in Tsotsi, The Musical at the Artscape Theatre, has become an opera sensation and is well on his way to stardom.
The musical runs from Thursday February 8 to Saturday February 17.
Sibuyiselo, better known as Sbuja, plays the title role of the teenage Tsotsi, which means thug in isiXhosa.
In a flashback of the past, his mother, played by Ayanda Nhlangothi, falls ill and passes away and he is forced to live with his abusive father, played by Nhlanhla Mahlangu, which is what leads him to being rebellious and becoming a tsotsi.
Sbuja said he enjoys playing the role of the teenage Tsotsi, except for when he is abused by his father as he cannot relate to such harsh treatment because his parents are the opposite and are very supportive of his decisions.
Being a tenor in the Bloekombos Secondary School choir is what had made Sbuja fall in love with opera music and changed his mind of becoming a DJ.
Two years ago the school choir was given the opportunity to audition for an opera musical. However, Sbuja was not selected but choir teacher, Siyabulela Sulelo, asked the directors to give him a shot at auditioning. They did and fell in love with his voice, encouraging Sbuja to take part in a musical called Comfort Yee, at the Artscape Theatre Centre in 2016.
Sbuja then featured in a movie in Germany called Kleiner Junge, Groter Freund. In 2017 he took part in a South African true life drama, The Whale Caller, playing the role of a young boy from Hermanus, who went around towns singing for money for food.
When asked how he managed his time while being at school, writing exams and rehearsing for roles, he said that it was hard, especially in matric last year when he gave his all to achieve good results but he was always tired.
“I was shooting and writing exams, I had to go to rehearsals and when I came home I’d have to study. In the first term I actually failed but at the end of the year I passed.”
Sbuja applied to study opera at the University of Cape Town and is saddened that his application was unsuccessful. He, however, was accepted at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to study electrical engineering and will be starting the course in February this year.
“Music is what keeps me alive but everything happens for a reason and maybe now I will have something to fall back on in the future,” said Sbuja.
He said he would like to be as famous as Luciano Pavarotti, one of the most successful tenors of all time. “
His (Pavarotti) music is his life’s story – he is my role model, he had faced many challenges on his musical journey. I think we have something in common,” said Sbuja.