Theatre is back in full-time business and lovers of the performing arts can once again relax into and be transformed by intricate and absorbing productions.
This year, we are expecting some wonderful productions in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and will even get to enjoy international productions that are touring locally. One local production will be doing its last round in Mzansi before heading to the world stage. Here is some of what you can expect from the theatre circuit in 2023.
THE GRASS WIDOW
- Baxter Theatre Centre (Masambe Theatre),Cape Town
- January 31 to February 12
This psychological thriller is strange in all the right ways. It delves into the complicated life of a woman scorned by her own life experiences – the relationships that have shaped her and the lengths she goes to to exact revenge on the people who have contributed to her suffering.
The psychosexual dark comedy is told from multiple perspectives, and is written by award-winning playwright Louis Viljoen, who is the genius behind plays such as The Bile Boys, Porno 88, The Pervert Laura and Oh Baby.
CALLING US HOME: THE MUSICAL
- Artscape Theatre, Cape Town
- February 15 to 19
It might be time to head down to the Mother City for a short holiday, since it has some of the best that theatre productions have to offer.
Calling Us Home centres on the life of Grace, played by Cape Town’s own Devonecia Swartz, an African princess who flees a violent war in her homeland and moves to America without a penny. There she finds Rafael, a young and strong leader of a group of construction workers with bold ambitions, and he is steadfast in his efforts to capture her heart.
The characters in this production are determined to make their dreams come true and are passionate about making a better life for themselves and their families.
Calling Us Home is a story that appeals to many through its premise – the power of connection and determination. This might be your last chance to watch the production, as it will be jetting off to the US and then Europe after this run.
HAMLET BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
- Baxter Theatre Centre (The Pam Goulding Theatre)
- February 22 to March 11
There is nothing more classic than William Shakespeare, the father of modern English literature. Next month, the Baxter Theatre Centre will be showcasing another one of his timeless plays, Hamlet – the tragedy of the prince of Denmark whose duty to avenge his father’s death entangles him in philosophical problems.
This commanding new interpretation by Janni Younge is given life through puppetry and physical performance. Its first installation was featured at last year’s National Arts Festival in Makhanda and was met with resounding approval.
Now, Cape Town will experience the classic that features a powerful cast that includes Mongi Mthombeni and Siyamthanda Sinani as Hamlet, Roshina Ratnam as Queen Gertrude, and Timothy Redpath as Claudius.
This intense, high-energy production will focus on the heart of Hamlet’s personal conflict.
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
- Theatre on the Square, Johannesburg
- March 28 to April 16
Few things compare to the brilliance of playwright and actor John Kani, and Nothing But The Truth is one of the creations from this formidable talent.
With two decades under its belt, since its premiere in 2002, Kani’s first theatrical offering has become one of the country’s most critically acclaimed pieces of original work.
This influential piece brilliantly depicts the dynamics of family relationships among black South Africans who remained in the country to lead the fight against the apartheid regime and those who returned victoriously after living in exile.
Local favourite Sello Maake kaNcube stars in the production, which is directed by seasoned director Charmaine Weir-Smith.
BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY
- The Teatro at Montecasino, Johannesburg
- April 21 to May 28
If you love 1950s rock’n’roll, then this one is definitely for you.
Buddy Holly stands as one of the music genre’s most influential acts, and even inspired award-winning musicians such as Elton John, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
The Buddy Holly Story has become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to musical stage productions, and is one of theatre’s most popular contributions.
This will be its debut in South Africa, brought to our shores by the one and only Nick Winston, who was responsible for productions such as Horrid Henry: Live and Horrid, The Wizard of Oz, Sweeney Todd, and Kiss Me, Kate.
The production features some of South Africa’s biggest theatrical talents, including Jethro Tait as Buddy Holly; Bethany Dickson from productions such as Matilda and Grease; and Keaton Ditchfield, who starred in Evita and Saturday Night Fever.
- The Market theatre (Ramolao Makhene Theatre), Johannesburg
- January 27 and 28
Following a successful run at last year’s Kucheza Afrika Festival, this contemporary dance work is once again brought to the stage by none other than Naledi Award nominee Thami Tshabalala.
Inspired by Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, this dance offering “details a global narrative of individual injustice, liberty, misrepresentation and preserving of heritage.
Told through the lens of a new age man of colour supported by history, the work further explores issues of spirituality, lineage and impact caused by the invasion of Christianity and missionaries into the African culture.”
Tshabalala had his debut with the widely successful Simon, a tribute to the late anti-apartheid, gay rights and HIV/Aids activist Simon Tseko Nkoli, and featured in Dada Masilo’s The Sacrifice.
This time, he interrogates spirituality and offers a fresh perspective into finding his true desired self.