Zabalaza festival back at the Baxter

The Baxter’s annual Zabalaza Theatre Festival is back from Saturday March 10 to Saturday March 17.

It will feature more than 40 theatre productions and events, with close to 150 artists.

Now in its eighth year, the festival kicks off with the newly imagined Family Carnival Weekend, which takes place on Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11. Activities will include a jumping castle and face painting for the young ones as well as food and clothing stalls.

There’s comedy, oMpondo Zihlanjiwe, on Saturday March 10, at 7pm, with 13 stand-up comedians performing in isiXhosa. The show is headlined by Siya Seya and Khanyisa Bunu, with comedians from Polokwane, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Cape Town.

The RAW (Real Art Wednesdays) showcase on Sunday March 11 and Friday March 6 will feature singers, bands, dancers, rappers, poets and beatboxers.

Other performances on the weekend line-up include six productions from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport’s (DCAS) Game Changer and After School Programme with participants from schools in the Overberg, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo and Eden Districts, as well as six productions from the Best of the DCAS Drama Festivals selected from the Cape Winelands and Eden Districts.

The main festival, with some 28 productions on the line-up, runs from Monday March 12 to Friday March 16 with daily shows at 10.30am, noon, 2pm, 4pm and 7pm throughout the week. The full programme is available at These productions were chosen from the four mini festivals which took place over two weekends during February in Khayelitsha, Delft, Athlone and Langa.

The festival will culminate with the award ceremony on Saturday March 17, where awards will be handed out to artists and productions in various categories and the Best of the Zabalaza Festival winner will be announced.

One of this year’s highlights is the introduction of the Baxter’s brand new Platform for Special Talent, made possible through funding from the City of Cape Town. The aim of the initiative is to develop and sustain theatre in South Africa by identifying talented theatre practitioners and providing them with a platform to improve and expose their artistic portfolio to a greater audience.

The five artists and their productions which were identified are Chuma Sopotela’s Rest in Love; Thando Mzembe’s Zebra Conspiracy; Bulelani Mabutyana’s Final Chapter; Lwanda Sindaphi’s KUDU and Nwabisa Plaatjie’s 23 Years, A Month and Seven Days.

Baxter CEO and artistic director Lara Foot has once again introduced the Zabalaza Challenge where she has bought 40 tickets at only R30 each to the performances at this year’s festival and she challenges individuals, businesses and the public to join her. “These tickets will be given to learners who cannot afford to buy any. Furthermore, the takings at the door go straight back to the young artists who are presenting their work at the festival.”

Another addition at the festival this year is a three-year bursary from City Varsity to any of the participants on the main programme and who apply to Zabalaza. A one-year internship at The Fugard Theatre has also been made available.

Tickets cost R30 for any production, except for the RAW (Real Art Wednesdays) showcases, which are R50 and the comedy showcase oMpondo Zihlanjiwe, on Saturday March 10, at 7pm, which is R80.

Book through Webtickets. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or

To join the Zabalaza Challenge go to