THIS YEAR’S Zabalaza Theatre Festival marks a watershed moment when the entire Baxter Theatre complex will be given over to the community theatre festival for an entire weekend.
The fourth annual festival will run from March 7 to 14, including the weekend of March 8 and 9 when every single space, inside and outside the Baxter, will be filled with Fringe events.
Theatre groups from towns like Robertson and Ashton are performing alongside groups from Knysna, Port Elizabeth and Tembisa.
The 40 performances staged over the weekend will include a lunchtime open mic session of hip- hop performances in the amphitheatre outside.
As has become a tradition, the festival will kick off with an opening ceremony, this time by director Thambi Mbongo, weaving together a collage of snippets from the festival programme into one seamless production.
From Monday, March 10 performances will be staged every day until Friday, March 14 (at 10am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm, 6.30pm and 8pm) in the Golden Arrow Studio, plus two sessions of poetry every day (at 2pm and 7pm) in the Masambe Theatre.
The festival culminates in an awards ceremony with prizes presented in several categories including best production, best director, best actor and best actress.
The prizes include opportunities for actors to audition for mainstream productions, and the previous winner of the best actor award, Khayalethu Anthony, will be back at Zabalaza as a writer/ performer with the debut of his one man show, The Champion.
Tickets for the Zabalaza Theatre Festival are R25 from Computicket or Shoprite Checkers.
On the main programme, some of the works to look out for include:
Jabulani and the Book, originally written by Gcina Mhlope, this is a children’s story directed by Rouxnet Grown.
Imbokotho, written by Thandi Hona, and directed by Sydwell Klass, gives us three women in prison, telling their stories.
My House, written by Thando Baliso and co-directed by Baliso and Sibusiso Zweni (nominated as best director at the 2011 Zabalaza Fringe Festival), looks at what happens between two friends when they realise they’ve fallen for the same woman.
Death, the Redeemer, devised by director Lwanda Sindaphi and the cast, is a physical theatre piece which deals with victims of police brutality. It was inspired by the death of Andries Tatane and Mido Macia from Mozambique.
• For the full schedule go to www.baxter.co.za/zabalaza