Press: TAAC Emerging Theatre Director’s, Thando Mangcu and Nwabisa Plaatjie


Thando Mangcu and Nwabisa Plaatjie have been awarded the Theatre Arts Admin Collective Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary 2017. Mangcu is directing Pieces – an original work. This will be staged from 16 – 22 July. Plaatjie is adapting and directing The Native Who Caused All The Trouble from 30 July – 5 August.


This bursary was pioneered in 2010 and has since provided opportunities to 19 up and coming directors, most of who have become prolific, creating a wide range of work and winning numerous awards.


Since 2011 the Distell Foundation has supported the Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary (ETDB). “The Distell Foundation is immensely proud of its long-standing commitment to the arts and culture sector. Opportunities in South Africa such as the Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary contribute significantly towards transformation and positive change in the industry,” says Simoné Benjamin, CSI Arts and Culture Controller for the Distell Foundation.


This year the ETDB has a very particular focus. As Caroline Calburn, director of TAAC, explains; “Young black women directors represented a small percentage of the overall profile of the Emerging Theatre Director’s Bursary winners over the past seven years. This had to change.


There are so many astounding and highly talented black women with the potential to be groundbreaking directors. All they need is opportunity. The opportunity to explore ideas that are important. Ideas that do not often receive support.  We hope that this bursary will allow two young women to take the spotlight, not just to develop their skills, but also to highlight the stories that they want to tell.  Both experimental by concept, we look forward to how Thando and Nwabisa will take on the challenges that their projects pose, and sculpt works that are bold and brave.”


Thando Mangcu is an actor and theatre-maker from Johannesburg. She studied Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town (UCT), completing her studies in 2015. Mangcu brings versatility to her work as writer, director and actor. The Fall is a highly acclaimed, award winning production that recently completed its second run at The Baxter Theatre. Mangcu co-wrote and co-curated this piece which chronicles the 2015 #mustfall movements. Written and directed by Mangcu, Pieces is a futuristic comedy that explores existence in all its complexity. The cast are Elizabeth Akudugu, Faith Kinniar, Grace Barnes and Nolufefe Ntshuntshe. Mangcu is on the floor at present.


When reflecting on winning the ETDB Mangcu says, “I had seen the impact (this accolade) made for my peers. It means that I can explore, as a theatre maker my areas of interest, limitlessly. I am most looking forward to deepening the skills I have learnt about theatre making and directing. I also look forward to new collaborations and creating new work whilst continuing the conversation and exploring various topics on intersectional feminism in an embodied way.” 


Nwabisa Plaatjie takes up the reins as our second ETDB winner, staging her adaptation of The Native Who Caused All The Trouble from 30 July – 5 August. First performed at The Market Theatre in 1986, this play centres around Tshelilo, a Basotho man who questions land ownership in Cape Town in the 1930s. Written by Danny Keogh, Vanessa Cooke and Fink Haysom, Plaatjie is making interesting changes to this relevant text. Also graduating as a theatre maker from UCT in 2015, Plaatjie’s work archive already includes 3 original plays: Identirrhaging (UCT 2015), Aha! and 23 Years, a month and 7 days (created with the support of Magnet Theatre, 2016) 23 Years will open the Arena of The Young Arts Festival in Erlangen Germany in June.


Plaatjie says this about winning the bursary, “It’s an opportunity to create a piece of theatre with an intergenerational and racially diverse cast. A chance to engage with the land question, artistically. I am most looking forward to playing, experimenting, learning and developing my craft.” 


Pieces will run from 16 - 22 July at 7pm. There will be matinee shows on 21 and 22 July at 12 noon. The Native Who Caused All The Trouble will run from 30 July – 5 August at 7pm. Matinees shows will be on 4 and 5 August at 12 noon.


Tickets are R60 each and can be reserved via phone (021 447 3683) or email ( or purchased online. Five tickets are reserved nightly for Pay As You Can on a first come first serve basis. This means a ticket can be purchased at an amount affordable to the recipient. The venue for both shows is: Theatre Arts Admin Collective (Methodist Church Hall cnr Milton Road and Wesley Street, Observatory, Cape Town).

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