Theatre in South Africa
Did you know?
Tstotsi, the South African feature film awarded the Foreign Language Academy Award, was based on Athol Fugard’s lone novel. The film also won 9 international awards, and is a turbulent story about a gangster who leaves terror in his wake, until a chance encounter brings about his redemption.
Long before Shakespeare bequeathed his celebrated comedies, sonnets and tragedies to audiences, ancient South African Bushmen were re-enacting the drama of a thrilling hunt in their homesteads, around roaring bonfires.
Tapping into our ancient wisdom, South Africans are masterful in the art of storytelling; they are natural born yarn spinners. Theatre has survived the ravages of time because it is a nexus for the arts - an explosive interaction of song and dance, a masterful blend of acting and storytelling, and a creative fusion of design and fashion.
There is nothing quite like the thrill of anticipation as you wait for the stage curtain to rise, the magic and electricity of a live performance, live theatre is, simply put, an altogether spellbinding affair.
South African theatre encompasses everything from Broadway shows, to Shakespearean dramas, excellent-value-for-money student productions, and razzmatazz musicals, period dramas, laugh-out-loud comedies, colourful children's productions and pantos, matinees, and even bold experimental fare. All are staged in South Africa's profusion of theatres, spanning across the country.
South Africa has major and minor theatres in all its main centres, and even in the country's nooks and crannies. From Johannesburg's slick, world-class theatre complexes, to balmy Durban's parochial, cosy affairs, and then there's Cape Town's uber cool sets.
Grahamstown, the cornerstone of theatre culture in South Africa, stages the annual National Arts Festival where South African plays enjoy unrivalled, sell out support, and often go on to tour the rest of the globe.
Among the best known South African playwrights are Athol Fugard, Barney Simon and controversial writer, lyricist, composer and director Mbongemi Ngema, whose talents have enriched South African theatre, where their plays continue to captivate audiences today.
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