Zwakala Festival celebrates 25 years of excellence


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The Curse - Zwakala Festival 2016
The Curse – Zwakala Festival 2016

When the production TAU won the Standard Bank Gold Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival this year and the production Isithunzi won the first prize at the inaugural Arts Incubators Trade Fair in June there was every reason for the Zwakala Festival to celebrate.

Both productions were catapulted into the mainstream by the Zwakala Festival.The Zwakala Festival has consistently produced work that has been thought- provoking and with strong artistic merits. The Festival has encouraged originality from participants and most of the work is presented in indigenous languages, which is another dynamic factor that sets the Festival apart from other festivals. This year the Zwakala Festival celebrates 25 years since it was first staged by the Market Theatre to elevate community theatre and to encourage community-based artists to attain new levels of artistic successes.

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With something for everyone at this growing Festival, it is a great opportunity for Johannesburg audiences to discover and experience an exciting line-up of dramatic performances. This year the Ekurhuleni region dominates with five productions. This also speaks to the growth of the theatre practitioners in the east of Gauteng. Historically, Soweto has been the main feeder of the Festival but the East Rand has risen to the challenge with productions that will create stimulating conversations about gender-based violence and other everyday social issues and challenges.

The ten productions at the Festival have received a high level of professional mentorship from award-winning arts practitioners who have primarily focused on developing good theatre productions all-round, not just one winner. The mentors have also worked on nurturing the writers and this process will ensure strong future voices for South African theatre in creating original work.

The Market Theatre FoundationThe Zwakala Festival is one of the Market Theatre Foundation’s flagship programmes. It serves as one of the key outreach community projects that has developed to great heights over 25 years and it has produced some of South Africa’s leading actors, directors and playwrights. The unique use of the power of performance to develop self-esteem, self-expression and literacy has played a huge role in transforming the lives of the community-based artists.

Months of preparation culminate in inspiring performances at the Market Theatre for one week. The Festival will end with the announcement of the winning production that will grace the Market Theatre stages for a full professional run in 2018.

The Zwakala Festival takes place from Monday 30 October – Saturday 4 November 2017. A full programme is available on the Market Theatre Foundation’s website

Bookings can be made on Webtickets at

To make block bookings, please contact Anthony Ezeoke 011 832 1641 ext 203 or Yusrah Bardien 011 832 1641 ext 204.

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