State Theatre presents 7th Vavasati Women Festival


A-Gender Movement

Ayanda Zungu and The Band

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Directing and Writing workshop

Empty Wraps

Her Skin Speaks

Salute Umfazi Concert

Small Boys with Big Sticks

Solace Can

Till Death Do Us Part




The curator of the 7th Annual Vavasati International Women’s Festival, Mamela Nyamza, and co-curator Kgaogelo Tshabalala have officially announced the festival’s full programme at its media launch held at the South African State Theatre on Wednesday, 24 July 2019.

The internationally acclaimed women’s arts festival is a ritual celebration for women’s month at the State Theatre. This year it is billed to run from 2 to 31 August (Women’s Month).

The spotlight will be on works addressing systemic structures of power that continue to discriminate against women, under the theme “Inequality: Seizing the Megaphone!” The festival’s name “Vavasati” (Xitsonga word meaning women) reiterates the power and strength that women possess when they unite. The Theatre created a festival of this magnitude to widen access to spaces and theatre resources to female artists.

Speaking to the theme of the festival, Nyamza who is the SAST’s Deputy Artistic Director says: “Inequality: Seizing the Megaphone!” unequivocally emphasizes that gender inequality is still deeply embedded in our society through patriarchy and the ongoing legacies of colonialism and apartheid. Misogyny, sexism, gender-based violence and abuse of women and children are devastating. The role of the arts in helping to shift destructive narratives is crucial for empowering women and changing our society for the better.”

Delivering both their keynotes at launch, Nyamza and Tshabalala went head to head with their picks and highlights for works and activities that the public can look forward to at the festival ahead. This year’s instalment boasts of over twenty works that are strictly created by women.

A newly added feature to the festival is the Open Market and Live Music segment that will take place every Sunday. This will be a lively setting on an open-air rooftop towered by landmark surrounds overlooking the arts complex. Most poetry and jazz sessions will take place here. Listed performances include Natalia Molebatsi and the Poets (2nd and 4th August); Ayanda Zungu and The Band (11th); Solace Can (18th); and Bodies Under Siege poetry showcase by various female poets.

International acts dominate the performance art category with, Namibia’s Trixie Munyama performing XUN (6th and 7th), which investigate how society deals with trauma and oppression; Zimbabwean choreographer Susan Nkata delving into themes around female sexuality (masturbation and orgasm) in an all-women production titled BLOOM (21st and 22nd); and Germany’s Llewellyn Reichman presenting FOOL (27th and 28th), based on the fool from Shakespeare’s King Lear, inspired by ‘Folly’, emerging from the quill of Erasmus von Rotterdam.

There are seven performance art pieces in Vavasati this year- signalling a growing interest in the art form.

In the theatre programme, IGAMA by Slindile Mthembu (3rd and 4th) intersects five women stories inside a boxed community as they are seen through the eyes of their oppressor. In the play, IT WASN’T MY INTENTION by Busisiwe Mazibuko (24th and 29th), women share accounts on their encounter with the justice system. Diamond Mokoape tells a painful past of a young woman who wants to reclaim her innocence in SILENT (28th and 29th). Empty Wraps by Nomvuyo Hlophe (9th and 10th) presents a series of deconstructed monologues broken down into thoughts resulting from loss and broken relationships that have manifested into the lives of four women.

Dance lovers can look forward to emotive works including Small Boys with Big Sticks (22nd), wherein choreographer Palesa Matabane breaks an innovative analysis of the country’s politics. The work depicts how politicians are just playing an ego game with the lives of voters. Thulisile Binda shares her heart-wrenching journey as a dancer in her piece titled ITHEMBA (Hope). The work will showcase on 16th and 17th August with Teresa Phuti Mojela’s LEGAGA – an autobiography inspired by Mojela’s life journey.

Photographer Lindeka Qampi will be showcasing her exhibition titled INSIDE MY HEART on 8th August. Her lenses are focused on her eyewitness experiences of violence as a survivor. She aims to break the silence of being a survivor. She zooms into the voiceless survivors who are still facing fears of violence.

Another photo exhibition is HER SKIN SPEAKS by Palesa Makua on 15 August. The installation is a movement dedicated to celebrating women’s ever-changing bodies. It is here to set a reminder to women that they are okay as they are!

Social activist and founder of A-Gender Movement Tebogo Ditinti will facilitate a talk/seminar called #A-GENDER THE MOVEMENT, aimed at bridging the gap in communication amongst all genders. The event is open to the public for free on 20 August.

Tickets for the festival can be purchased online on and at Pick n Pay outlets nationwide.

For the full programme please visit

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