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Wednesday, December 14, 2016


(Roel Twijnstra & Emma Durden)

Excellent publication is an absolute must for anyone venturing into the challenging world of theatre production. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Theatre Production in South Africa, Skills and Inspirations is written by Roel Twijnstra and Emma Durden. They describe it as “a user-friendly introduction to the role of the theatre director and the concept of stage-craft presented in a way that is easy to understand for those who are stepping into the role of director for the first time, or those who feel that they need a refresher course and new inspirations.”

This excellent publication is an absolute must for anyone venturing into the challenging world of theatre production. It’s virtually an academic course on how to run everything from the initial creative ideas, casting and staging through to marketing and publicity, funding applications and ticketing/box office control. Positive feedback has already been received from young directors, university Drama Departments, schools and community theatre groups.

The soft-cover 251-page book contains extremely valuable input from well-known theatre practitioners from all levels who share their wealth of experience. The range covers everything from community theatre to professional theatre work as well as industrial/corporate work.

Interviews with producers include Nobulali Dangazele, Hayleigh Evans, Ntombi Gaza, Mhlanguli George, Yvette Hardie, Bheki Khabela and Bhekani Shabalala, Julian Seleke Mokoto, Jerry Pooe, Warona Seane, Jaco (Kosie) Smit and Steven Stead.

The section of Interviews with Project and Stage Managers features Nosipho Bophela, Carl Johnson and Peter Taylor while Environment around the Producer features Elton Mjanana, Monde Ngonyama, Jay Pather, Peter Tshabalala and Bridget van Oerle.

The individual sections offer valuable telling comments:

Yvette Hardie talks about needing more outreach projects: “We need to reclaim spaces and create pop-up spaces, public art festivals and theatre in people’s homes”.

Bridget van Oerle: “Producers must listen more to their potential audiences and understand better how the media and audience works if they want to keep and grow their audience.

Jerry Pooe: “In an ideal world, the arts centres are the new production models and should feed the big theatres, they all must become stakeholders and collaborate. Producers also cannot depend on government funding alone. We have to find a way to be independent from them. We need to work with passion.”

Jay Pather: “A good artist explores his audience, uses what lives in his audience and makes fresh and confronting work. If art is not addressing a burning question in society, then I will not produce it.”

Steven Stead: “I feel that we are more artists than producers. The baseline is that the passion and the work come first, not the money. We produce some shows, like the pantomimes, that make money. With that money we are able to produce our passion projects and that business model works for us.”

Peter Taylor: “There is an unfortunate universal attitude that seems to pervade the country that one should not have to pay to attend theatre. One would never think to ask the supermarket time after time for free groceries, so why this attitude towards theatre?”

Bheki Khabela and Bhekani Shabalala: “Producing industrial theatre is a completely different way of thinking and working. It is not about you but about the client’s voice. Some want you to talk about cultural differences, some want their workers to know the safety regulations, or a change in the security system. Sometimes it is health related and sometimes it is awareness or just fun.”

Many people applying for arts funding for the first time find themselves daunted by the requirements in terms of paperwork such as budgets, action plans, etc. The book provides invaluable guidelines for funding applications.

“Theatre Production in South Africa, Skills and Inspirations costs R100 (excluding postage and packaging) and can be ordered by calling 082 673 6662 or email:

The book is published by Twist Theatre Development Projects and Jacana with support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Twist Projects is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) .- Caroline Smart

(Twijnstra and Durden are currently working on their new book: “Acting for stage and screen, skills and inspirations in South Africa”.)