The Playhouse Company’s 20th annual South African Women’s Arts Festival

Commissioned by the Playhouse Theatre

Celebrating 60 years since the 1956 Women’s March to Parliament


For Women’s Month in August, The Playhouse Company will present its famed South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF).

Marking the Company’s 20th Festival, this extremely popular annual Festival will this year commemorate 60 years since the 1956 Women’s March to Parliament.

All 4 workshops listed below are free

Workshops for Artists & Suppliers 

Playhouse Alhambra Room – 11 August: 10h00 – 15h00

Touring and Funding in the Arts

The panellists areJohn Mogashoa from the Department of Arts & Culture, Michelle Constant from Business and Arts South Africa, and Sanele Dlamini from the National Lotteries Commission. The session will be facilitated by Durban theatre practitioner, Jerry Pooe.

Venue and Technical Management in the Arts

Panellists are Durban theatre practitioner, Edmund Mhlongo, and Playhouse Company technical specialists Annah Mototo and Philane Shange, facilitated by Playhouse Company Technical Manager, Le Rien Stoffberg. All four workshops are free, and recommended for all performing arts practitioners.

Financial Contracts and Human Resource Management in the Arts

Featuring panellists Playhouse Company Chief Financial Officer, Amar Mohanparasadh, and the Company’s Human Resources Manager, Ian Warnes, facilitated by Ashwin Singh. Some of the subjects to be included in the workshop are how to register your company, production budgeting, financial contracts, managing company cash flow and ensuring compliance.

A short workshop for prospective suppliers to The Playhouse Company. During this workshop, Playhouse Company CFO, Amar Mohanparasadh will present a tutorial about the government’s Central Supplier Database (CSD), the benefits of registering and how to go about it. During this workshop, panellists will provide direct assistance about the CSD to anyone who potentially wishes to become a supplier to The Playhouse Company.


Please reserve seats by calling Dawn on (031) 369 9407 as space is limited 


We are still marching    Playhouse Drama Theatre    11 – 13 August

Opening on 11 August for three schools performances and two public ones is We are still marching, a brand new dance work commissioned by The Playhouse Company to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March on Parliament in 1956. Choreographed by Sunnyboy Motau of Moving Into Dance Mophatong (MIDM), the production will feature two award-winning dance companies: The Playhouse Dance Residency and MIDM. The piece explores the struggles faced by women in South Africa and neighbouring countries from the apartheid era until the present day. It is a reminder of incidents such as the Women’s March, the bus boycott and the recent mass #FeesMustFall campaign, and of the fact that even 22 years after the first democratic elections in South Africa, the struggle continues and women are still marching.

We are still marching is a wonderful celebration of women, their lives and their commitment, and promises an exciting, memorable experience for all lovers of dance. Motau was named one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2015, and a work he co-choreographed was named one of the top three works of the 2015 Dance Umbrella.

This show will be staged for schools on 11 August at 09h30 and 12h00, and at 09h30 on 12 August.

Public performances will take place on Friday 12 August at 19h30 and on Saturday 13 August at 14h30.

Open Mic & Sundowners   Grand Foyer    12 August @ 16h30

Free entry!

On Friday 12 August from 16h30 in the Playhouse Grand Foyer, Bongani Mavuso will facilitate an Open Mic session with some of KZN’s top artists of the spoken word, followed by a performance by musician Thobeka Langa and her band in The Playhouse Company’s regular Sundowners slot. Twenty-seven-year-old  Pietermaritzburg jazz vocalist Thobeka Langa specialized in jazz and popular music during her studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has shared the stage with several high profile artists such as Lira, Judith Sephuma, Ronnie Jordan, MiCasa, and Ernie Smith. Anyone wishing to take part in the Open Mic session is asked to call or email Bongani Mavuso on 082 066 3099 or not later than 12h00 on 8 August.

Test-Driving the Arts     3 August @ 10h00


Saturday 13 August is a very busy day for the Festival. First up at 10h00 is another in The Playhouse Company’s regular Test Driving the Arts concerts outside the front of the Playhouse, this time featuring Zandile’s Women Drummers and Mzansi Arts Development. The performance is free of charge.


Dance Workshops with Moving Into Dance Mophatong    13 August @ 10h00

 Booking essential

Also at 10h00, the award-winning Moving Into Dance Mophatong will conduct two of their renowned Afro fusion dance workshops at the Playhouse. This lively journey towards contemporary dance promises a fun-filled morning that will take participants’ bodies on a physical journey through the unique spirit and history of contemporary African movement and dance, while participants learn valuable warm-up skills, dance techniques, and a thrilling fusion of African dance styles.


I Took A Stand    13 August @ 12h00

Free entry, but seats need to be reserved 

Then at 12h00, The Playhouse Company will stage I Took A Stand, a dramatic staging of the stories of women who were affected by or participated in the 1956 Women’s March to Parliament, whose 60th anniversary is being commemorated in 2016. These priceless stories will be dramatized on The Playhouse Company’s magnificent Opera Theatre stage, interspersed with songs of freedom performed by the Clermont Choir and the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. The production is written by Thuli Zuma, and directed by Edmund Mhlongo. At the end of the performance, stalwarts who had a major impact on the March will engage in dialogue in front of the audience, who will be invited to participate in the discussion.


Sundowners Concert    Main Foyer    13 August @17h00

Free entry!

At 17h00 that day, The Playhouse Company’s regular Sundowners Concert will feature a double bill of the band Afro Soul and singer Skye Wanda, along with some of the province’s top performance poets. The three-piece Afro Soul is made up of Surgent Malishe (aka Lion Lish), Sabelo Ngema (aka Jakalase) and Thandeka Zulu (aka Mujeetha). The Durban-based band has won numerous awards, including two SATMAs and a Metro FM Award, and has three albums to its name. Skye Wanda is a vocalist and rapper who fuses jazz, gospel, R&B, neo-soul and hip hop to create her distinctive style and sound, all finished off with catchy melodies and fresh lyrics.


Girls Nite Out Comedy   Playhouse Opera Theatre   13 August @ 20h00

The day ends on a funny note in the Playhouse Opera Theatre with Girls Nite Out Comedy, an all-woman explosion of laughter featuring Mel Jones, Lindzy Msimang, Nina Haste and Shimmy Isaacs, and directed by Monwabisi Grootboom. Get ready to laugh your socks  The laughter begins at 20h00. After the show, Festival-goers can continue to have fun at the Festival After-Party with KZN’s top DJs.


Arts Aspire Organisation presentations

Arts Aspire Organisation, a new theatre company currently based in The Playhouse Company’s Cellar Theatre, will present three productions as part of the Company’s South African Women’s Arts Festival.


Blood, Sweat and Nothing   Playhouse Cellar  13 August @ 18h00 & 14 August @ 15h00

Written and directed by Xolani Dlongolo and performed by Kholeka Madulini, Blood, Sweat and Nothing takes us through the story of a female ex-Umkhonto weSizwe operative called Gcinizwe Khumalo who lost both her parents while she was in exile. After 15 years in exile, she was happy to come back to South Africa only to find that it not what she thought it would be and that life is hard even for those who fought for the liberation of the country. This sensitive story is told through powerful monologues, flashbacks and music

Between Labour and Prayer   Playhouse Cellar    7 August 2016 @ 18h00; 18 August 2016 @ 15h00

Written by Simo Mpapa Mjola and directed by Khutjo Green, Between Labour and Prayer looks at the stories of enslaved, objectified and mutilated women who work on a corn farm. It has been a number of years since ownership of the farm changed hands yet nothing has really changed at the farm, even though the new owner is a Black man, Mshengu Shabalala. His laws are still the same as Baas Koekemoor: they are still forced to wear pinafores, doeks, petticoats, and are obliged to wear colourful frocks in Spring to complement the season. The new boss is now perceived by the women as a manipulative, heartless, corrupt and power-hungry ‘Baas Koekemoor’ in a Black man’s skin. The play uses the spoken word, monologues, music and physical movement to carry the narrative.

Thabitha (my African princess)   Playhouse Cellar   9 August @ 18h00; 20 August @ 15h00

Written and directed by Thandanani UNgonyama Qwabe, Thabitha is a story of truth and reconciling with oneself as a powerful woman. It is told through story-telling, where a young woman tells her side of her story of being what women need to be. It is a story of women’s power, dignity and love.