Ngale Kwendlu:
The Other Side of the House

The Windybrow: a house that has witnessed riches and ruin, dinner parties, dereliction, and rebirth. Built by one of Joburg’ s pioneer families, it has been a home, a boarding house, officer’s mess, nursing school and sometimes a shelter for vagrants. It’s most memorable role, though, has been as an arts centre and theatre, with many of South Africa’s greats having passed through its doors.

One of the first Joburg theatre spaces to forge strong pan-African connections, the mansion in Hillbrow has survived three threats to demolish it, and the only reason it still stands is because of its vibrant potential as a theatre and arts centre.

To help activate that potential once more, a new production – Ngale KweNdlu: The Other Side of the House – will delve into the history of the Windybrow – its imagined secrets, untold stories and fading memories.

Audiences will be led on a journey, experiencing the house from different vantage points – the grand reception areas and the intimate nooks. Leading this theatrical experience – the new drama company formed by the Market Theatre Foundation, who have been researching and imagining the lifespan of the house, and those whose lives have been touched by it.

“In this production, characters from different periods of time might bump into each other on the stairwell – Doornfontein’s high society Randlord wives, street vagrants, actors, nurses and Boer war soldiers,” explains Tamara Guhrs, who, with Alex Halligey, has been working with the company to conceptualise a theatre experience that brings its legacy alive.

“What really moved me,” explained actress Lesego Chabedi, “was speaking to Papa John Ramasholwane and hearing how much this place has meant to him. There was a time when there were accusations of financial mismanagement, a forensic report, and so on. The theatre was dark and fell into disrepair. Now it is being revamped, and the house has new energy, but it is still sad to be removing the revolving stage from the theatre. We want to honour spaces like the old Dalro theatre, and help a new generation to understand what the Windybrow meant and can still mean.”

“It will be more than a theatre production,” adds Mathews Rantsoma, a graduate of the Market Theatre Lab and member of the new drama company. “We are trying to show the other side of Joburg’ s history – the gold miners and workers who built the city, whose stories are buried. The ones you don’t see in the photographs.”

Ngale KweNdlu: The Other Side of the House’ will run from 17 – 25th March at The Windybrow at the following performance times:

  • Saturday, 17th March: 14:30 and 18:00
  • Sunday, 18th March: 14:30
  • Tuesday, 20th March: 11h00 (school’s performance)
  • Wednesday, 21st March: 14:30
  • Thurs, 22nd March: 11h00 (Schools performance)
  • Friday, 23 March: 18h00
  • Saturday, 24th March: 14:30 and 18:00
  • Sunday, 25th March: 14:30

To make block bookings, please contact Anthony Ezeoke 011 832 1641 ext 203
or Yusrah Bardien 011 832 1641 ext 204

For further information and interviews please contact:

Lusanda Zokufa – Senior Publicist Market Theatre Foundation
011 832 1641 ext 202 or 072 367 7867