The Market Theatre lands in Grahamstown

Rehearsal image from the production Ankobia - Momo Matsuntane and Alfred Mothlapi
Rehearsal image from the production Ankobia – Momo Matsuntane and Alfred Mothlapi

The Market Theatre will be out in full force with four thought provoking, inspiring and entertaining productions that will be presented on the Festival’s Main, Student Festival and Fringe programmes.

Recognised as South Africa’s most iconic theatre with a 41-year history and more than 300 awards to its credit, the Market Theatre is no stranger to Festival audiences. This year’s offering of four productions will provide Festival audiences with a unique insight into the minds of young writers, directors and actors who associate themselves proudly with the Market Theatre brand.

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The 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Monageng Vice Motshabi, is an alumnus of the Market Theatre Laboratory. He joins the ranks of two other alumni, Mncedisi Shabangu and Prince Lamla, who won the Standard Bank Young Artist award in 2003 and 2013 respectively.

Motshabi will premiere Ankobia on the Festival’s main programme. Set in the futuristic land of Pelodikgadile where it is forbidden to remember anything that happened before the new state was formed, Motshabi’s political allegory is co-written with the Omphile Molusi, winner of the 2007 Brett Goldin Bursary which gave him a UK stint at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Molusi currently teaches at the Market Theatre Laboratory.

Students of the Market Theatre Laboratory will perform on both the Student and the Fringe programme when they premiere their two productions Hani and Pop iCherri to audiences at the festival.

Hani, devised and directed by Leila Henriques, is inspired by the hit American musical Hamilton. Told through hip-hop, rap, ballad and high-powered energetic dances, Hani is a contemporary and inspiring story about the life and times of assassinated political leader, Chris Hani. The presentation of Hani at the Festival coincides with the 75th anniversary of the birth of the charismatic leader.

In Pop iCherri, love, lust, beliefs and perceptions, emotion and devotion, religion and culture all come crashing together in the Market Theatre Laboratory production. This devised play explores themes surrounding virginity. It was inspired by a newspaper article about scholarships being offered to virgins.

The winner of the 2015 Zwakala Festival and recipient of three Naledi Awards for 2016, TAU played to full houses at the Market Theatre late last year. The story deals with sensitive cultural issues that have remained unchanged for centuries and are difficult to question. Throwing the spotlight on taboo of homosexuality during a sacred “manly” ceremony. TAU does not wish to shun the cultural beliefs of its audiences. It asks people to look to themselves and to question whether the abuse of power that is rooted in customs happens on the grounds of ignorance or as a calculated choice … LEROTHODI!

“The National Arts Festival is a dynamic platform for showcasing new talent and for exploring new directions in performance. The Market Theatre Foundation’s presence across the eleven-day festival will inspire, challenge, entertain and offer Festival audiences moments for critical reflection,” said Market Theatre Foundation CEO Ismail Mahomed. He was the Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival for eight years prior to taking up his post at the Market Theatre Foundation.

For more details about the National Arts Festival and to book for Market Theatre Foundation productions please visit

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