Baxter Theatre Centre
The Western Cape’s greatest staging of fresh, innovative developmental theatre, the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival, will take the stages, from 24 March to 1 April 2023.
Dance, drama, music and poetry will permeate and reverberate through The Baxter, from 24 March to 1 April 2023, when the Western Cape’s greatest staging of fresh and innovate theatre returns this year. The annual Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival will showcase 37 productions and 189 participants, who will entertain, captivate and intrigue audiences.
Now in its 13th year, this year’s festival is the product of the successful hybrid mentorship programmes launched during the COVID-19 lockdown. The programme saw script writing mentorship for writers and mentorship workshops for directors, to ensure the finest in trailblazing theatre. This year the mentorship collaboration has extended with double the number of mentor’s offering support to each of the main festival productions. The main festival programme includes themes of tradition, culture and identity.
Since its introduction, the Family Day has been a much-loved start to the award-winning festival. The Family Day, on Saturday 25 March 2023, will include food stalls, a jumping castle for children to enjoy, market stalls and a children’s theatre programme that will run from 9.45am to 12pm. As is tradition, the Best of DCAS will showcase their productions with participants from the Overberg, Cape Winelands, West Coast and the Garden Route Districts.
This year, the festival will pay tribute to writer, actor, director and mentor, Khayalethu Anthony, who passed away in September 2022. A special screening of his award-winning production, The Champion, will be shown on Family Day, Saturday 25 March at 5pm. Anthony’s work won the Best of Zabalaza award in 2013 and was published by Junket Publishers in 2014. The Champion also won the Fresh Award for Writing in the 2017 Cape Town Fringe Festival. All proceeds from the screening of this award-winning production will go to Khayalethu’s family. Khayalethu’s unwavering involvement and contribution towards the Zabalaza Festival was exemplary, both as a participant and as a mentor. He was the founder of the Imbawula Theatre Company in Khayelitsha. Khayalethu performed with Dame Janet Suzman in Baxter CEO and artistic director, Lara Foot's, award-winning two-hander, Solomon and Marion, at The Baxter and abroad.
For adult audiences, the Saturday evening offers a selection of performance experiences. An eclectic and innovative poetry performance takes place in the Baxter Garden at 6pm and RAW (Real Art Wednesdays) return to the line-up, with a platform for a variety of talented performers, in the Concert Hall at 7pm. On Sunday 26 March, there’s afternoon comedy at 3pm, in the Concert Hall featuring Choice Mtshixa, Kate Pinchuck, Altaaf Sayed, Ayabona Kene, Dylan Mccabe and Sivuyile Dunjwa.
The 37 productions on the main festival, takes place from Monday 27 to Friday 31 March, with performances at 9.45am, 11am, 12pm and 7pm daily. These productions were selected after months of mentorship and development culminating in mini festivals which took place over three weekends at the end of November and early in December at the Baxter Concert Hall, Makukhanye Art Room in Khayalitsha, the French Alliance in Mitchell’s Plain, Black Box Theatre, Delft Rent Office in Delft, and Masambe at The Baxter respectively.
The Zabalaza Theatre Festival is generously supported by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the Western Cape Government, National Arts Council of South Africa, an agency of the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, through the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, the Distell Foundation, the HCI Foundation and Pick n Pay, while the script of the winner of the Best of Zabalaza is published annually by Junkets Publisher.
Curated by award-winning director Mdu Kweyama, along with Zabalaza team members Imameleng Masitha (festival administrator), Bulelani Mabutyana (coordinator), Nonsikelelo Maboza (audience development) and Katharina Rosch (dramaturg). The festival will culminate in a gala awards ceremony, on 1 April at xx, where accolades will be handed to various artists and productions and the Best of Zabalaza winner will be announced. The winner will enjoy a two-week run at The Baxter in August 2023.
For over a decade the Baxter Zabalaza Festival has grown and developed young theatre-makers and artists, many who have gone on to receive recognition and accolades in the local (and in some cases, international), theatre landscape.
The full Zabalaza Theatre Festival programme can be found here www.thebaxter.xyz/zabalaza2023. Tickets to the main festival are R30 each or R45 for two shows for schools and organisations only. They are available through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at www.webtickets.co.za or at Pick n Pay stores.
Schools and organisations with group bookings have the option of affordable transportation offered by Golden Arrow Bus services, who support the festival yearly, at R5 per person, for groups of more than 40, with a strict maximum of 60 people per bus. For school or group bookings, fundraisers or charities contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nontsikelelo Maboza on 021 680 3984 or email her at email@example.com