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Friday, July 21, 2023



(Above: A scene from “Umthombo” which forms part of a double-bill with “Baobab”. Pic supplied)

The Playhouse Company, an Agency of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, celebrates its annual SA Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF) in Durban’s Playhouse complex between August 5 and 20, 2023. Always a highlight on South Africa’s annual Women’s Month, the festival is geared a to be major draw card for Playhouse audiences, both as residents, and also with a significant cultural tourist appeal.

“As the founders of SAWAF, the Playhouse takes its role of the festival’s custodians very seriously,” says Lynda Bukhosini, the Company’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director. “In curating each year’s festival programme, our prime objective is to underline the incalculable contributions South African women bring to all aspects of our country’s well- being. We as a team put our collective skills and experience to bear in striving for excellence in the productions that are presented on our stages.”

“This year’s SAWAF audience can expect a roster of riveting live theatre, music and dance that shines a powerful light on what we as citizens owe to contributions of our country’s women. An in-depth community conversation session will add value to the festival’s performance components, and an exhibition of African art and beadwork that will run throughout its duration.”



Omama Abahlobisi Bomhlaba

Omama Abahlobisi Bomhlaba shines a light on the plight of a group of Esigodlweni seziNdlovukazi Warriors – those brave women from eThekwini’s community of informal traders, who speak up for themselves. While telling their stories, the production broadens its scope to embrace issues that focus on the safety of women of KwaZulu-Natal. These indomitable souls shoulder life’s burdens with courage and determination, to bring home food for their families. Directed by Dr Mbongeni Ngema, with musical direction by Nhlanhla Mqadi and choreographed by Tsediso Kabulu, the cast includes some of KZN’s finest acting sorority: Sam Hlophe; Cabangile Gumede and Bazini Msomi.

Loft Theatre, August 11-13 at 19h00. Tickets R100.


Thandiswa in Concert

Thandiswa means many things to thousands of fans who flock to hear Mzansi’s great Afro Soul super diva in live performance. Her compositions include traditional Xhosa rhythms, Mbaqanga, reggae, funk, and jazz sounds. Her name is synonymous with sold-out billboards, with tumultuous applause, with standing ovations, and the multiple awards.  These are the hallmarks of one of Mzansi’s great show business careers. It goes without saying the standout vibrancy of Thandiswa’s voice is instantly recognizable, setting her apart from most of her peers. She brings everything she’s got her singing. Her mission is to make the world a better place. Be sure to book for the headline act on this year’s SAWAF line-up - the incomparable

Thandiswa in Concert. Opera Theatre, August 12 at 19h30. Tickets R400 – R600.


(Right: Natasha Sutherland stars in Shirley Valentine. Pic supplied)

 Shirley Valentine

Willy Russell’s perennial one-hander, Shirley Valentine, is a masterly portrayal of emotional isolation, leavened with wry, ironic wit. Trapped in a dreary marriage, Shirley, in her early 40s, confides in her kitchen wall while preparing her churlish husband’s tea. Then her life takes an upturn. Directed by Gina Schmukler with Natasha Sutherland in the spotlight, this widely-acclaimed production has a topical new relevance in the wake of Covid-19 and two years of lockdown. That said, our feisty protagonist is as engaging ever. In Shmukler’s stylish production, Ms Sutherland’s command of stage craft is seen to maximum effect.

Shirley Valentine. Drama Theatre, August 11 to 12 at 19h00. Tickets R100.


Community Conversation

Community Conversation will be held around the topic of Mental Health, with a panel discussion offering practical mental tools in better dealing with Depression and Anxiety. Community Conversation. Alhambra Room, August 12 at 12h00. Admission free


Poetry Sessions

Poetry Sessions feature a stellar line-up of talent, including Ewok; Thando Fuze; Xoli Vilakazi; Kush Mahleka; and Farah Sayed; hosted by Nkululeko ‘Page’ Ngwenya.

Poetry Sessions. August 12 at 17h00 (Admission free)



Romanza - an electrifying collaboration between guitar whiz James Grace, and the sensational Compañía Sophia Spanish Dance Troupe - is geared to set festivalgoers’ pulses racing, in a surge of visual and aural flamboyance. The colourful brilliance of swirling skirts competes with drumming flamenco heals, and the rapid-fire rattle of castanets. All this, while luxuriating in Mr Grace’s incomparable virtuosity on his custom-built guitar, known for its ‘orchestral’ tone. This will offer a generous sampling of the critical acclaim and international fame he enjoys, performing show-stopping hits by Albéniz, de Falla, and José Galván, with choreography by Olivier.

Romanza.  Loft Theatre.  August 18 to 19 at 19h00. Tickets R100.


(Left: A scene from “Baobab” which forms part of a double-bill with “Umthombo”. Pic supplied)

Umthombo / Baobab

The Playhouse unveils Umthombo / Baobab, its newly-commissioned double bill of dance-storytelling by two of our country’s finest creatives - Sylvia ‘Magogo’ Glasser, revered founder of Moving Into Dance (MID), and Mandla Sonnyboy Motau MID’s artistic director. Motau’s Umthombo opens the bill. Its title - signifying ‘Source, Navel or Birthplace’ - stands as an uplifting reminder of our origins, as we celebrate our life’s journey. Glasser’s Baobab powerfully evokes the unconventional beauty and strength of the deep rooted ‘Tree of Life’, thriving in the most adverse conditions. It also calls to mind the strength of African women, whose fortitude carries them through life’s challenges. 

With more than 50 productions from the past 60 gracing her portfolio, patrons are urged to see this significant work, which may well be 82-year-old Ms Glasser’s swansong. Both productions feature an ensemble of seven MID artists: Sonnyboy Motau, Eugene Mashiane, Lesego Dihemo, Sbusiso Gumede, Thabo Naha, Afrika Ziqubu, and Esinawo Nkohla.

Umthombo / Baobab. Drama Theatre, August 18-19 at 19h30. Tickets R100.



Soiree offers a Saturday afternoon entertainment of consummate music-making by Nozuko Teto, one of SA’s leading sopranos (who dazzled the audience in our sold-out ‘10 SA Sopranos’ concert earlier this year). Ms Teto will be joined by two of our finest young tenors - Khayakazi Madlala and Bongani Kubheka. The singers will be accompanied by the distinguished Andri Potgieter on piano, in an exquisitely curated programme of song that celebrates women.

Soiree. Grand Foyer, August 19 at 15h30. Tickets R80.


All Playhouse bookings through Webtickets.

Secure parking at the Royal and Albany parking facilities.