SA plays to show in Edinburgh

The Baxter Assembly company in Edinburgh.

The Baxter Theatre Centre, producers of the 2012 Edinburgh hit play Mies Julie, has been invited to showcase six award-winning, cutting-edge, South African productions at the 2017 Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival in Scotland, from Thursday August 3 to Sunday August 27.

Presented in association with Assembly Festival and Riverside Studios, the six dramas are Lara Foot’s Tshepang: The Third Testament, Karoo Moose – No Fathers and The Inconvenience of Wings, The Fall, Sylvaine Strike’s Tobacco and Yael Farber’s Mies Julie returns to complete the line-up.

“This is an amazing challenge and opportunity for the 36 actors and technicians who will be opening all six shows at the Assembly Fringe on the same day, August 5,” says Lara Foot, CEO and artistic director of the Baxter Theatre Centre and executive producer of the season.

“We are proud to be part of such a prestigious international festival where we hope to learn, grow and be part of world thinking, understanding and connectivity. We want to show that we represent theatre which is cutting-edge in style and content and that South African theatre is to be taken seriously.

“With some generous financial assistance from The Andrew W Mellon Foundation, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Investec and, with the Assembly on board, we were able to create this season.”

This Baxter South African season at the Assembly Fringe Festival coincides with the Baxter Theatre Centre’s milestone 40th anniversary on August 1. The iconic theatre came into being as the result of a bequest from the late Dr William Duncan Baxter who, in his will, bequeathed an amount of money to the University of Cape Town for the purpose of establishing a theatre which would, in his own words, “develop and cultivate the arts in Cape Town and the adjacent districts for all artists”.

With architect Jack Barnett they wanted to design a theatre that embodied a South African spirit and culture and it had to embrace all the people of Cape Town, at a time when South Africa was hugely divided.

Since first opening its doors on August 1 1977, the theatre has always been a venue for all South Africans despite the restrictions imposed and segregation laws that were enforced by the apartheid government.

The Entertainment Act of 1931 introduced legal censorship, the Publication and Entertainment Act of 1963 segregated black and white audiences unless under special licences. To build the Baxter in the city centre meant that black people couldn’t access it, and that is why the University of Cape Town became a strategic location and venue for a theatre for all.

“This is such an honour and we are thrilled to present this line-up of productions at the largest and most prestigious arts festival in the world, while the Baxter celebrates its 40th anniversary and especially given our history as a theatre in South Africa since 1977”, says Fahiem Stellenboom, Baxter marketing manager.