Loosely translated, Zabalaza Intsika eBaxter Theatre, means two things: striving towards being a pillar of the Baxter Theatre Centre and striving towards success.
In working closely with artists from all over the Western Cape and showcasing their work in an impressive and dynamic programme, this is exactly what the Zabalaza Theatre Festival team strives for.
Now in its seventh year, the 2017 programme boasts a record number of 56 productions, featuring nearly 300 artists from all over the Western Cape.
Young and rising talents are joined by stalwarts and previous participants over the eight-day period, which will focus on fresh and innovative ideas.
The Zabalaza weekend (18–19 March) will see all of the Baxter's venues filled with assorted artistic activities and nearly 30 productions. The Zabalaza week (20–25 March) includes daily performances in six different languages – English, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana and Afrikaans.
The diverse programme includes works in a range of genres, including drama, musical theatre, dance, physical theatre and comedy. This year, the team introduced reggae into the musical theatre category with the intention of constantly expanding their reach.
As a leading development event, the Zabalaza Theatre Festival is much praised for its contribution to the arts and for providing a platform for artists hoping to venture into acting, stage management, writing and directing. It won a 2016 Fleur de Cap award for Innovation in Theatre for its efforts.
“Outreach into the communities is a key component of our ethos at Zabalaza,” says artistic director Thami Mbongo.
“All year round our team travels to various areas in this province and elsewhere in the country. We are committed to working closely with the artists and the communities, whether through the mini-festivals or simply through our many visits and viewing of theatrical creations by some overwhelmingly talented people.”
It is chiefly from these mini-festivals that the 2017 programme was selected. These took place earlier in the year in Worcester, Nyanga East, Khayelitsha, Delft and at the Eden Drama Festival, the Cape Winelands Festival and the Overberg Drama Festival.
Crucial to this selection process were a number of former Best of Zabalaza winners, who worked together with the core team as part of their continued artistic and administrative skill-building.
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