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There is great excitement brewing for the sixth annual Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival which takes place daily, for one week only, from 12 to 18 March, where 40 productions from all over the Western Cape will be showcased.

The hugely popular development festival kicks off with the Zabalaza Weekend on Saturday, 12 and Sunday 13 when all venues and spaces in the theatre complex will pulsate with dynamic and diverse artistic activities featuring 26 productions.

The Zabalaza Main Festival features 17 productions and runs from 14 to 18 March daily with shows on at 10am,11.15am, 12.30pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6.30pm and 8pm.

The festival will boast multiple genres – from drama, poetry, hip hop, dance and musical theatre to physical theatre and theatre for children, performed in five different languages – English, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Zulu and Shona.Some of the innovations in this year’s festival include a poetry show by Words of War, stand-up comedy performed by Amasokolari Township Comedy and many musical productions to choose from.

Widely regarded as one of the leading theatre development platforms in South Africa, the week-long event promises to be jam-packed with outstanding young and rising talent. The productions were primarily selected from the eight mini-festivals which were held earlier this year in Robertson, Stellenbosch, Khayelitsha, Delft, Athlone, Mitchell’s Plain, Langa and Nyanga East. The winning productions from the Eden Drama Festival, the Cape Winelands Festival and the Overberg Drama Festival are also included in the line-up.

Khayalethu Anthony, who won the Fleur du Cap award for Best Performance in a review, cabaret or one-person show forThe Champion, returns to the Zabalaza Theatre Festival in a guest performance with his latest production Naked Truth.

An adaptation and translation of Janice Honeyman’s Bangalory’s Back, which was part of the Baxter’s festive season line-up, will also be staged at the festival this year. Adapted and translated into isiXhosa by Zoleka Helesi, Amabali Ethu is the perfect show for young children and learners aged 5 to 12 and can be seen at 10.00am or 11.15am daily from 1418 March.

The support of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and the theatre-going public, and the passion and creativity of the artists have ensured that the festival has gone from strength-to-strength, growing exponentially as it pushes boundaries in theatre-making.

Zabalaza has given rise to great young stars that have graced the world’s stages in a short period, gathering accolades along the way, which include Fleur du Cap and Naledi awards for Khayalethu Anthony and Phillip Dikotla.

The core team behind the festival comprises artistic director Thami Mbongo, co-ordinator Zoleka Helesi, executive manager Bongile Mantsai, facilitator Mandisi Sindo and administrator Laura de Vos.

“Outreach into the communities is a key component of our ethos at Zabalaza,” says artistic director Thami Mbongo. “All year round our team travels to various areas in this province and elsewhere in the country. We are committed to working closely with the artists and the communities, whether through the mini-festivals or simply through our many visits and viewing of theatrical creations by some overwhelmingly talented people. It is very rewarding. We are deeply thankful to the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport for their partnership and support.”

“Our full name Zabalaza Intsika eBaxter Theatre loosely translated means two things: striving towards being a pillar of the Baxter Theatre Centre and striving towards success,” says Mantsai. “With these partnerships and cross-pollination of events, as well as the participation of the various artists, groups, guests and theatre-makers performing at this year’s festival, we hope to live up to these goals.”

Tickets for the festival are R30 and booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.comor at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, email sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen on 021 680 3993, email carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

To view the full 2016 festival programme go to www.baxter.co.za, facebook.com/BaxterTheatre,facebook.com/zabalaza.

For further information about the festival or to make school’s bookings for any of the festival shows, please contact Zoleka Helesi or Laura de Vos on 021 680 3980 or email laura.devos@uct.ac.za.

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