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TThe Market Theatre was founded in Johannesburg in 1976 and it is a vibrant hub of arts and entertainment. It has played host to some of the country’s most famous plays, including many from South Africa’s most acclaimed playwright, Athol Fugard.
The Market Theatre is world renowned for bravely putting on brilliant anti-apartheid plays that have included Woza Albert, Asinamali, Bopha, Sophiatown, You Strike the Woman You Strike a Rock, Born in the RSA, Black Dog – Inj’emnyama, as well as the premieres of many of Athol Fugard’s award-winning dramas.
The Market Theatre’s history is intertwined with the cultural, social and political struggle for freedom in South Africa.
The Market Theatre challenged the apartheid regime, armed with the conviction that culture can change society. The strength and truth of that conviction was acknowledged in 1995 when the theatre received the American Jujamcyn Award. In providing a voice to the voiceless, The Market Theatre did not forego artistic excellence, but, rather, made a point of it. The theatre went on to become internationally recognized as South Africa’s “Theatre of Struggle”.
DDuring the past four decades, The Market Theatre has evolved into a cultural complex for theatre, music, dance and the allied arts. Today, The Market Theatre remains at the forefront of producing and presenting cutting edge work that has an authentic African artistic voice and which is inclusive of the rich tapestry of African diversity.
The Market Theatre in Newtown
TTo achieve this, The Market’s artistic policy for a post-apartheid South Africa centres on encouraging new dramatic writing. These new works will offer ways to help South Africans understand, interpret and thrive in the second decade of the country’s new democratic life.
The Market must continue to be a theatre that is engaged, challenging and entertaining. The staff remains committed to maintaining the highest possible artistic standards as it searches out exemplary new writing, and the best new, young directors, designers and lighting designers to achieve this mission.
On December 5th, 2015, the 2nd anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death, Letters from Mandela was performed at The Market Theatre. This was a performance piece of song and dance based on Mandela's personal letters during his time in prison on Robben Island.
LLetters from Mandela gave insight into the man many didn’t know, seen through intimate letters between him and his family, friends and colleagues.
"The arts must continue to be that critical voice that reminds us of our responsibility towards the legacy that we have and what we have to be proud of," said Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
There’s something for everyone at The Market Theatre. Pick one and try not to be distracted by the wealth of choice. Then, let the curtain rise, the lights dim and enjoy the show.
It was an act that had played out many times in South Africa: a forced removal. In 1904 bubonic plague broke out in the town centre, in an area known as Brickfields. Once the brick makers had been removed 25km south, to Klipspruit, the area was fenced and razed to the ground. And so Soweto was born.