Zwakala Festival


ow in 25th year, the Zwakala Festival continues to remain one of South Africa’s most dynamic theatre festivals aimed specifically at community-based theatre-makers. Established three years after the the Market Theatre Laboratory was founded in 1989 by Barney Simon and John Kani with funding from the Rockerfeller Foundation, the Zwakala Theatre Festival provides a platform for community-based artists to acquire artistic skills through a structured fieldwork programme and to create a showcase performance that can be presented at the Ramoloa Makhene Theatre in Market Square.

John Kani
Barney Simon

Ramolao Makhene taught at the Market Theatre Laboratory for many years, influencing many students who became prominent actors, directors and producers including Kenneth Nkosi, Mpho Molepo, Pule Hlatswayo and Mncedisi Shabangu. In 1984, Ramoloa received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the play, Master Harold and the Boys. He starred in five movies including the 1995 film, Cry the Beloved Country, starring James Earl Jones. Makhene was best known, however, for his work the popular television drama, Soul City, that was watched by over 16 million South Africans. Makhene died in 2003 from liver cancer. The Ramoloa Makhene Theatre which houses the Zwakala Theatre Festival celebrates his legacy and deep passion for which he dedicated his life to offering theatremaking skills for young theatremakers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Zwakala Festival is coordinated by Sipho Mwale.

The 2017 Zwakala Festival will take place from 2 – 7 October 2017.

Each year since 1998, one production from the Zwakala Theatre Festival has been selected for further mentorship by the Market Theatre Foundation. The production is then offered a professional season at the Market Theatre with full support from the professional team at the Market Theatre Foundation.

Past winners of the Zwakala Theatre Festival

2016 Isithunzi Luthando Mngomezulu
2015 Tau Thabiso Rammala
2014 Thula Thula Mxolisi Msilela
2013 The Playroom Thando Mzembe
2012 The Journey Simphiwe Khaya
2011 Next Sunday Godfrey Thobejane
 2010 Circle Tau Maserumule
 2009 8 Minuets Clive Mathibe
Double Bill Madi Mike Makou
 2008 Sekwatlapa Marlon Khoza
Double Bill Thirteen Mncedisi Shabangu
 2007 Thursday’s Child Ntshieng Mokgoro & Realogile High School
 2006 Go a Phelwa Rachel Paledi
 2005 Coal Yard Prince Lamla &  Ohetse Bodibe
 2004 Esuthwini Mncedisi Thambe
 2003 Maluju Zulu Bonginkosi Tshangase
 2002 LATE Welile Buyeye
 2001 Betrayal Mike Sithe
 2000 Wangesheya Wangesheya Mncedisi Shabangu