|On stage: The award-winning Ikhwezi Theatre Festival celebrates its 11th birthday in development theatre with 16 productions scheduled for March. Photographed here are eager festival participants.|
A feast of 16 new productions will be staged at the Baxter from 12 to 28 March when the Ikhwezi Theatre Festival comes to town.
A premier platform for new and indigenous theatre, the festival is a Baxter Theatre Centre Initiative, winning the highest honour in its category at the 2004 Arts and Culture Trust national awards.
For 11 years this festival has showcased new works - 170 in all - featuring hundreds of actors, writers and directors who have attended festival workshops conducted by leading lights in the industry. These include theatre specialists such as Mark Fleishman, Mike van Graan, Mbulelo Grootboom and Chuma Sopotela (Fleur du Cap 2007 Best Actress winner.)
Thanks to the festival, several young talents have germinated, among them Thami Mbongo, winner of the 2008 Brett Goldin Bursary and Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Karoo Moose.
Last year a record number of 19 plays were staged for its 10th anniversary.
Speaking at the festival, Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan, said the theatre initiative had been a "unique burst of hope".
"Ikhwezi is, literally, a guiding North Star that has inspired hope and confidence in the hearts of our people."
Festival stalwarts Sopotela, Mbongo, and Molusi Omphile are part of the Baxter Theatre Centre and the Royal Shakespeare Company collaboration of The Tempest, running to great acclaim in Stratford-upon-Avon. The show will travel to five other cities in the UK.
Festival director Itumeleng Wa-Lehulere said: "We are ready for the next wave of young guns as we enter our second decade."
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