The second Zabalaza Theatre Festival is currently underway at the Baxter with 21 productions being showcased this year
Thirteen original productions will be making their mainstream debut in the Golden Arrow Studio from until March 31 daily, with eight more on at the newly introduced Fringe Programme on Saturday March 24.
Since its launch last year the trio of Thami Mbongo (Artistic Director), Bongile Mantsai (PR and Finance) and Zoleka Helesi (Festival Co-ordinator) have been hard at work to ensure a jam-packed, diverse and dynamic festival.
One of the highlights this year will be the Sibikwa Indigenous African Orchestra, who will play in the foyer every night from 6pm during the festival. The festival will also include a special guest production, ‘Thabo Mbeki and other Nightmares’ by Tsepo Wa Mamatu.
From over 34 presentations seen over four days at mini festivals held earlier this year in Nyanga and Kraaifontein, the final selection was made for staging in the line up for 2012. The selection panel comprised the Zabalaza team assisted by the award-winning Faniswa Yiza, Mbulelo Grootboom and Nhlanhla Mkwanazi.
“The talent was so wonderfully overwhelming,” explains Helesi, “that we decided to add the fringe so that more of the incredible work in the communities can be seen by audiences. Think about it: 21 new productions performed in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa by theatre groups from all over the Western and Eastern Cape. We are so excited about embarking on this process of working closely with all the groups.”
The 2012 Main Festival productions come from George, Heidelberg, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Samora Machel, Gugulethu and Kraaifontein. Fringe productions have been sourced from Philippi, Khayelitsha, Mbekweni, Du Noon, Ravensmead, Malmesbury and Mfulweni.
“We are merely responding to the needs of community-based theatre-makers, writers, directors and actors,” says Mbongo. “We have introduced these additional aspects to the festival, ensuring that it is fresh and representative.”
Last year’s winning production, ‘Uhlazo’, written and directed by Loyiso Damoyi, went on to a critically acclaimed run at the Baxter and a tour to Johannesburg, and was part of the recent Suidoosterfees, proving that community theatre can find an audience.
The 2011 Zabalaza Theatre Festival was also the platform where the Fleur du Cap Best Actor nominee Khayalethu Anthony made his mark. He went on to star in Lara Foot’s ‘Solomon and Marion’ alongside international star Dame Janet Suzman.
* Ticket prices to this year’s festival are very reasonably priced at R25 per performance, which includes transport from selected locations to the Baxter and back. Booking is through Computicket. Visit www.baxter.co.za for more information.