Zabalaza festival celebrates a decade of new theatre works

2020-02-25 06:03
“The New Dawn Store”, by Patric Bhakqana. PHOTO: Star Senamile Zwane

“The New Dawn Store”, by Patric Bhakqana. PHOTO: Star Senamile Zwane

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This year’s Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival celebrates a decade of the finest in development and outreach talent from all over the Western Cape.

The festival programme will include 42 works by more than 700 theatre-makers.

“The Zabalaza festival has enabled and empowered young theatre-makers who otherwise might not have the opportunity to have their works recognised at this level,” says Baxter chief executive officer (CEO) and artistic director Lara Foot.

The gala opening on Saturday 7 March will take on a different format as speakers look back at the festival’s achievements over the past 10 years while looking into the future of theatre in South Africa.

Dr Shose Kessi, the dean of humanities at the University of Cape Town (UCT), is one of the guest speakers on the night, as is the provincial minister for cultural affairs and sport, Anroux Marais, and CapeTalk presenter and long-time Zabalaza supporter, Africa Melane.

The family carnival weekend jump-starts the festival on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 March. Kids’ entertainment includes jumping castles and face painting while the rest of the family can enjoy the food, clothing and accessory stalls.

The four winning productions from the department of cultural affairs and sport (DCAS) will also be staged when participants from the Overberg, Cape Winelands, West Coast and the Garden Route districts will have the chance to present their work.

In the evening, Real Art Wednesdays (RAW), for the first time, will present Deep Soul in the 90s. The production showcases the best emerging talent Cape Town has to offer.

The main festival will take place from Monday 9 to Friday 13 March with daily shows at 10:00, 11:30, 16:30 and 19:00 during the week. The productions on stage during this week were chosen from the four mini-festivals that took place at the end of 2019 in Khayelitsha, Delft, Nyanga and Kraaifontein.

An award ceremony will conclude the festival on Saturday 14 March.

The Best of Zabalaza Theatre Festival winner will also be announced on the night. The winning show will enjoy a two-week run at the Baxter in April.

The festival enjoys the support of the provincial department of cultural affairs and sport, the City of Cape Town, Distell Foundation, the HCI Foundation and Pick n Pay.

This year’s festival received a financial injection from the recent Rolex Arts Weekend at the Baxter, as all the proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the festival.

Each production on the main festival is ticketed at R30 per show while shows over the family carnival weekend are priced differently.

Members of the public have the chance to make a contribution to the festival through the Zabalaza challenge, initiated by Foot in 2018.

The drive encourages individuals, businesses and organisations to join her in purchasing bulk tickets, for those who might not be able to afford them, at only R30 a ticket. 

  • The full festival programme can be viewed on the Baxter’s website at To contribute to this initiative, visit Bookings are through Webtickets on or at Pick n Pay outlets.
  • For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at or Tshegofatsho Mabutla on 021 680 3994 or email her at


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