Best of Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival Winner, “First Accused”, At The Baxter For Short Season November 2020

Best of Zabalaza 2020 winner, First Accused, to be staged at The Baxter for a limited season in November this year, with all COVID-19 protocols observed

Front Sinazo Guga, Lihle Qobongoshe, Buhle Sam, Back Mava Silimko in First Accused, pic by Mark Wessels

The Baxter’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival 2020 winner, First Accused, written and directed by Mava Silumko, will be performed at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, with six performances only, from 12 to 21 November, at 6.30pm and two Saturday matinees at 2pm.

All performances will be limited to fifty percent capacity, with COVID-19 protocols in place as regulated at Level 1 during lockdown. These will include the availability of hand sanitisers, tracking and tracing recorded, wearing of masks and physical distancing. Patrons and audience members are advised to arrive at least an hour before the start of the performance to avoid delays.

The riveting play was selected out of 36 productions at the 10th annual Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival which was held in March, just days before lockdown and the national state of disaster were announced.

First Accused looks at how the South African justice system fails the women who suffer emotional, physical, or sexual abuse at the hands of their spouses. Femicide and gender-based violence against women and children, often perpetrated by their partners or spouses, have reached pandemic proportions in South Africa, making the timing of this production perfect, critical and vital.

The cast of four is made up of writer and director Mava Silumko with Buhle Sam, Sinazo Guga and Lihle Qobongoshe. Silumko, from Strand in the Helderberg, has been a participant at the festival for the past seven years. In 2017 he was awarded the Most Outstanding Artist of the Zabalaza Festival. Cast member Sinazo Guga has twice been nominated as the Best Supporting Actress (2017 and 2020).

“Winning the Best of Zabalaza for 2020 is one of my greatest achievements to date and, given that I have been participating in the festival since 2013, my dream and goal was always to receive this award,” says Silumko. “Over the years I attended many workshops at The Baxter where I learnt so much about creating content and I am grateful that it has paid off. I hope that this production will help to create awareness around this scourge which has and continues to ravage South Africa. Enough is enough – we have been battling with this issue for too long now.”

Silumko started writing First Accused in 2018, after seeing how women and children are suffering from abuse and murders in South Africa. He started to do extensive research on the subject and at the time, the statistics showed that about 4000 women were incarcerated for self-defence, making it 2.6 percent of the prison population.

This year the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival celebrated a decade of the finest development theatre as it continues to develop theatre practitioners from in and around the Western Cape, by providing them with performance platforms so that they can realise their creative concepts. This is achieved through mini festivals in targeted communities, script readings, showcases culminating in the annual theatre festival. Over the years more than 500 productions have been showcased with well over 1500 artists and theatre-makers participating.

Every year one production is awarded the Best of Zabalaza. The winning production goes through a mentorship process to raise the standard of the work before it is mounted for a two-week season at The Baxter. This provides the company with another opportunity to stage their work in a professional theatre with full logistical support.

The continued support and commitment from the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, the City of Cape Town, Distell, HCI Foundation and Pick n Pay has enabled the successful and sustained growth of the festival every year, allowing it to maintain its reputation as one of the leading development platforms of its kind in South Africa.

“I am delighted to congratulate Mava and his cast on this important production, given the alarming rate of gender-based violence against women in our country. Furthermore, it is a sensitive and poetic work that tackles an out-of-control reality experienced by so many women daily,” says Zabalaza artistic director, Mdu Kweyama.

Previous Best of Zabalaza winners are Die 9de Maand (Tyron Zoutman) and Ukuwa Kwe Nkaba (Mthobisi Mpandle) in 2019, Onweer (Carlo Daniels, 2018), Boy Ntulikazi (Thobani Nzuza, Kagiso Tsimakwane, 2017), TIP-ex (Lauren Hannie, 2016), Fruit (Paul Noko, 2015), The Champion (Khayalethu Anthony, 2014), Skierlik (Phillip Dikotla, 2013), Worst of Both Worlds (Bulelani Mabutyana, 2012) and  Uhlazo (Loyiso Damoyi, 2011).

Many of these productions went on to be staged at various festivals and events in the Western Cape and, in some cases, further afield. Skierlik received two Fleur du Cap nominations and Khayalethu Anthony won the Fleur du Cap award for Best Performance in a review, cabaret or one-person show for The Champion.

Ticket prices for First Accused are R60 and booking is through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at or at Pick n Pay stores. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or e-mail her at


Zakes Mada’s acclaimed First Novel, Ways of Dying, To Be Staged At The Baxter With Stellar Creative Team For Limited Season 10 – 14 November

Zakes Mda’s acclaimed first novel, Ways of Dying, will be presented by the Baxter Theatre Centre and UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies (CTDPS), at the Baxter Flipside for six performances only, from 10 to 14 November at 7pm, with a Saturday matinee at 3pm, on 14 November.

Front Bokang Ntsutle, Middle Anathi Godlo, Tebatso Molapo, Back Liam Walsh in Ways of Dying

Adapted and directed by Lara Foot, who directed the work 20 years ago at The Market Theatre, the cast is made up of 14 fourth-year students from the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies (CTDPS).

The formidable award-winning creative team comprises Mdu Kweyama (direction and choreography), Bongile Mantsai (direction and music) with set design by Patrick Curtis, lighting design by Mannie Manim and costume design by Leigh Bishop.

All performances will be limited to fifty percent capacity, with all COVID-19 protocols observed as regulated at Level 1 lockdown restrictions. These include the availability of hand sanitisers, tracking and tracing recorded, wearing of masks, physical distancing and audience members are advised to arrive an hour before the start of the performance to avoid delays.

“The CTDPS is thrilled to be collaborating with The Baxter on our final fourth-year production,” says Sara Matchet, head of CTDPS. “2020 has proved to be exceptionally challenging in terms of teaching in the Performing and Creative Arts departments at UCT. The loss of face-to-face contact teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our programmes enormously.”

She continues, “The collaboration with The Baxter and with Lara Foot as director, promises to offer our graduating Acting students an experience that will make up for what has been lost. And a theatrical treat for local audiences to experience this work and creatives involved.”

The cast comprises Liam Walsh, Tamzin Williams, Megan Tromp, Francis Sholto-Douglas, Klara Schoonraad, Emma-Jane Pieters, Bokang Ntsutle, Basetsana Motloung, Tshiamo Moretlwe, Tebatso Molapo, Cullum McCormack, Brett Ilsley, Anathi Godlo and Sam Alexander.

Front Tebatso Molapo, Middle Emma-Jane Pieters, Basetsana Motloung, Back Liam Walsh in Ways of Dying, pic by Rob Keith

The story follows Toloki an eccentric and dignified professional mourner, who meets his childhood friend Noria, at her son’s funeral. They fall in love and move in together, each one teaching the other how to heal and live.

Ways of Dying is the 1995 novel by South African novelist, poet and playwright, Zakes Mda who has won a several major South African and international literary awards for his work. The book received the M-Net Book prize, and it was shortlisted for the Central News Agency (CNA) Award and a Noma Award. Some of his other works include The Heart of Redness, Our Lady of Benoni and The Zulus of New York.

The Mail and Guardian described the book Ways of Dying as “… a moving and startingly original novel …” and veteran writer Sindiwe Magona said, “A flawless, intricate, seamless weave, with magic and mystery … Mda is a master storyteller”.

With only six performances from 10 to 14 November at 7pm and a matinee on 14 November at 3pm, ticket prices for Ways of Dying are R75 and R50 for students. Booking is through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at or at Pick n Pay stores. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or e-mail her at


Joburg City Theatres Closes Off Women’s Month With Amanda Black

Joburg City Theatres closes off their month-long programmes with a virtual concert featuring the songstress, Amanda Black.

The free streaming concert is aimed at celebrating South African women.

‘Women should be celebrated every day, but a month dedicated to female empowerment is extremely special. As we tell stories through the arts, we also create memories for all our patrons.’ says Xoliswa Nduneni Ngema, Chief Executive Officer of Joburg City Theatres.

Amanda Black is a multiplatinum-selling and multiple Award-winning singer/songwriter, an aspiring activist, youth leader and a powerful voice in women empowerment and the fight against inequality and gender-based violence.

Amanda first came to the limelight as a contestant on the popular TV Show, Idols South Africa, where she contested 3 times, only breaking ground in season 11 where she made the final 7. Still unstoppable, in 2016 Amanda released her powerful and critically-acclaimed hit single, Amazulu, an inspiring and easily relatable soulful piece which resulted in numerous nominations and wins, including 3 South Africa Music Awards, 2 Metro Awards and a BET International artist of the year nomination. Titled after her first single, Amanda’s debut album was certified platinum only three weeks after its release.

A strong believer in embracing diversity and equality, Black has over the last few years used her platform and influence to speak on several issues including women empowerment and gender-based violence, intending to help build a better world where all people are heard, respected, equal, and treated with dignity.

JCT invites all families and communities to watch the free streaming of great music, themed around telling authentic African stories, weaved with creative storytelling and poetry, showing the world that Amanda is not only an artist but one who evokes a unique, strong and timeless voice for this generation.

Date: 30 August 2020
Time: 16h00
Book your free ticket here:


Joburg City Theatres Suspends Performances And Programmes

Joburg City Theatres suspends performances and programmes

Joburg City Theatres have been directed to postpone all shows and activities until further notice, affecting Joburg Theatre, Soweto Theatre and Roodepoort Theatre.

Joburg City Theatres has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19), in response to the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited, on Sunday 15 March 2020.

Amongst the productions and events affected are the following:

Joburg Theatre:

  • Joburg Ballet’s Don Quixote – cancelled
  • The Color Purple – cancelled
  • Joburg International Comedy Festival (JICF) – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Arts and Culture Fest – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Be Our Guest – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • The Head and the Load – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • SEI/Seboko Roadshow – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Mzansi Reggae Red Carpet Concert – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Duma Ndlovu Academy (DNA) development programme – suspended until schools re-open
  • Applied Performing Arts Administration and Management programme – suspended until schools re-open
  • The People’s Theatre’s The Jungle Book – postponed / new date to be confirmed

Roodepoort Theatre:

  • Talent Africa – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Curt – postponed

Soweto Theatre:

  • Guerrilla Classics / Human Rights Day Picnic – cancelled
  • BYU Ballroom Dance – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Be Brave – postponed to 3 – 4 October
  • I Look to You with Kelly Khumalo – postponed/new date to be confirmed
  • Vuma Zion – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Litsomong Youth Development Programme – suspended until schools re-open
  • Music Tutorial Programme – suspended until schools re-open
  • Ingubo – Soweto Traditional Winter Fashion Show – postponed / new date to be confirmed
  • Ndofaya Arts and Culture Clap & Tap – postponed / new date to be confirmed

The CEO of Joburg City Theatres, Ms Xoliswa Nduneni Ngema, says “The safety and health of our staff, performers and visitors is our number one priority. Should there be any changes to the current status, we will take account of any recommendations from the relevant authorities and implement all appropriate instructions accordingly.”

MMC for Community Development, Councillor Margaret Arnolds, adds “We understand that these cancellations and postponements come as a disappointment, but ultimately we all want the same thing – the health and safety of our communities. While we are all very concerned, and rightfully so, we must avoid panic and take all precautions to combat this virus. ”

All affected patrons will be contacted by Joburg City Theatres’ ticketing office. For any enquiries, please e-mail or call 011 877 6853 / 011 877 6917.

Details around new dates and rescheduling of the productions, as well as any changes to the current status, will be communicated through our website, social media and newsletters in due course.


The Fugard Theatre Suspends Shows With Immediate Effect

Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday 15 March 2020, The Fugard Theatre will suspend operations with immediate effect, as of Monday 16 March 2020, until further notice due to the acceleration of the COVID-19 virus over the weekend. The health and well-being of our audiences, actors and The Fugard staff remain our foremost concern.

This will affect the following productions and screenings:

  • “Master Harold”… and the Boys
  • Never Too Naked
  • It’s Only A Play
  • What We Wish For
  • Concerning the Life of Babyboy Kleintjies
  • All Moffie screenings
  • The 2020 Fugard Bioscope World Arts Cinema Season (until 1 June)

Details around new dates and rescheduling of our suspended productions will be communicated through our website, social media and database in due course.

All patrons will be contacted by The Fugard Theatre box office to arrange a full refund for seats booked. For any enquiries, please email

Sometimes the show can’t go on: If you have tickets to a live performance or screening which has been cancelled due to COVID-19, please consider donating your ticket rather than requesting a refund. This is the kind of thing that can kill the arts. The livelihood of countless performing arts professionals are at stake.