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Audiences are in for a three-week theatre spree when the Cape Town Fringe Festival opens on 21 September.

The Festival, which has spread into thirteen venues across Cape Town, is preparing to launch with a diverse programme of theatre, dance, comedy, illusion, music and family fare. Says Cape Town Fringe manager Zikhona Monaheng, “It’s a programme rich with stories, many of them very personal stories, but collectively they echo the hearts and minds of most South Africans right now.”

Exploring slices of life from the perspectives of prisoners, gangsters, grandmothers, teenagers, and rabbits, artists are evolving new realities, venting frustration, reflecting on loss and performing our collective catharsis with a programme that is also significantly Capetonian in subject matter.

Tackling some pretty hectic issues, the theatre component of the Fringe, the biggest section of the programme, sees the Imbawula Theatre Company take on the effects of the absent father in THE CHAMPION, and Rhodes University’s Drama Department exploring issues of loss, recollection and closure in the award-winning BAYEPHI. Dryfsands’ THE ALCHEMY OF WORDS captures the enigmatic poet, Arnold Rimbaud’s world through puppetry, film and music; Jean-Pierre Lesch scripts #Other_Coloured_Story for the cast of DIRTY LAUNDRY EN VUIL WASGOED; and Mpapa Simo Majola uses physical and lyrical vignettes and disconnected monologues to convey his confusion over life and death in THE FUNERAL.Drawing on his Khoi heritage, and storytelling, music and theatre, Hakkiesdraad Hartman opts out of fence-sitting in DIE DRAADSITTER; Francis Mennigke appeals to the heartstrings in Greg Coetzee’s absurd comedy, THE BLUE PERIOD OF MILTON VAN DER SPUY; and Sjaka S Septembir’s poetry fuses with physical theatre and music in SKOP, an unusual, light-hearted look at love, sex and death directed by Sandra Temmingh.

Numerous family shows make for an ideal end-of-term or school holiday treat. These include the award-winning THE SINGING CHAMELEON about a hero who overcomes adversity, the magical KWATHI KE KANTI KALOKU, a celebration of Xhosa children’s literature and indigenous music, and 2017 Best of Zabalaza Festival winner BOY NTULIKAZI, a work suited to teens of 13 and older, about the impact our life choices can make.

Dance productions such as Indoni Dance Art Academy’s IKHAYA with choreography by Sbonakaliso Ndaba, Musa Hlatswayo’s ‘DODA’, and the Cape Dance Company’s extract from ELLIPSES give exquisite food for thought, while the pure joy of dance is celebrated by 34/18 Youth Dance Company’s MOMENTUM.

POLICE COPS IN SPACE, sequel to the 2016 Cape Town Fringe smash hit, Police Cops, is sure to pack in the crowds with its frenetic physicality and absurd comedy. Venda-born Delft comedian, Mashudu, plans to bring down the house with his commentary on South African politics, taxi drivers and Omashonisa in RED CARD and Tats Nkonzo brings his self-deprecating Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning production, PRIVILEGED, to the Fringe.

From NAKED GIRLS READING to hip hop emcee challenges, from BIG,BIG COMEDY to SOUL CONNECTION gospel concerts, from Khoisan poetry to gangster stories and children’s literature – there is a smorgasbord on offer. Pick up a Programme at Exclusive Books or visit for the full line-up.

Bookings can be made at

All the Cape Town Fringe venues this year are small independent theatre spaces or pop-up theatres, a format that assists Cape Town theatre-makers in promoting and celebrating the small theatres where they are. Shows move between venues but do not necessarily visit all venues.

The Cape Town Fringe will be presented at:

Makukhanye Art Room in Khayelitsha
Alma Café in Rosebank
Jolly Carp in Retreat
Fringe Club at the German Club in Gardens
Theatre Arts Admin Collective in Observatory
iThemba Labantu in Philippi
Zolani Sport and Recreation Centre in Nyanga
Alexander Bar in Cape Town City
Little Theatre, P4 Studio and Bindery Lab at Hiddingh Campus, Orange St, City
Black Box Theatre in Delft South
AFDA in Observatory

The programme at a glance

(W)ASEM (Meermin Produksies, Western Cape) is a dramatic comedy with elements of physical theatre, performance art and spoken word. Aimed at youth between the ages of fourteen and up this solo work deals with issues of race, sexuality and identity.

2LATE (Ladimash Productions, Polokwane) has teenagers as its primary target audience and tackles the issue of teenage pregnancy.

ABANGABONWA (Sibonelo Dance Project, Western Cape) is a dance piece in four movements directed and choreographed by Mzokuthula Gasa. The title means ‘the unseen’ in isiZulu and draws on the ‘unheard’ stories of people living in the townships in poverty.

Unmute Dance Company’s ACCESS ME unpacks the theme of access through movement and is based on the dancers` personal struggles and triumphs of accessibility.

From KZN, Acoustiq Assassins XPERIENCE is an evening of stories expressed through music, dance and spoken word. Accompanied by a contemporary dancer, this trio of storytelling musicians perform poetic, minimalistic music using two acoustic guitars, a djembe, a keyboard and a trumpet.

In ACOUSTIC ME LoveChild (Vuyiseka Maguga) is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist, Bongani Tulwana, for songs of hope, freedom, empowerment and love.

Conceptualised and hosted by Mandisi Sindo from the Makukhanye Art Room BACAH forms part of a series of events, designed as public conversations to explore the importance of Black art, Black artists and Black communities in a democratic South Africa.

Kieron “Bam Bam” Brown is a producer and singer-songwriter who has been both at the forefront and on the foundational side of the Cape Town music scene. He was the former frontman for both Saintfearless and Feverston and has now branched off into a solo career.

Makukhanye Art Room’s BARS & BEATS EMCEE CHALLENGE aims to encourage youth to gain knowledge, practice and to use hip hop to develop both themselves and their community.

BAYEPHI, a theatre production from the Eastern Cape directed by Thembela Madliki, is set against three decades of South African history (1970s to late 90s). The play deals with loss, recollection and finding closure through remembering those whose spirits we continue to mourn.

THE BIG, BIG COMEDY SHOW, produced by Rob van Vuuren Productions brings together Siv Ngesi, Kurt Schoonraad, Lindy Johnson, KG Motgadi and Rob himself in a one night only, stand-up feast.

Presented by Ibhongolethu, BLACK PRIDE is a poetry and music performance work in IsiXhosa and English.

Co-written by Thobani Nzuza and Kagisho Tshimakwane, BOY NTULIKAZI (Kwethu Productions, KZN) is a solo physical work directed and performed by Nzuza with live guitar accompaniment by Nhlanhla Zondi. Described by Jamal Grootboom as “an exploration of displacement and its far-reaching implications within a rural black South African context,” the play won the 2017 Best of Zabalaza Festival. Originally performed at Isigcawu Festival (Khaya Multi Arts Centre) Nzuza received the Best Actor Award 2015. The work was also presented at the 2015 DUT New Playwright’s Festival.

BUNNY AND THE MAGIC HAT (SHRiNKray Puppets) combines the art of puppetry with the mystery of magic to entertain the whole family. This non-verbal tale of a Bunny desperate for a carrot carries subtle and endearing message of never giving up.

Slick ‘n Sleeve’s BUTLERS & BLOOPERS is interactive murder-mystery theatre with multiple endings. This show, the 10th anniversary of the Butlers series, revolves around a group of actors who try frantically to put on a murder-mystery production, with fate throwing them as many curve balls as she can.

Written and directed by Mandla Mpanjukelwa, CONFESSIONS features Luke Buys in a solo performance which tells the story of a young gang member Kz, who is the last man standing of his gang. The work explores, through the mind of a criminal, what drives humans to committing grave, unforgivable atrocities to each other.

Mitchells Plain funny-man, Justin-Ray Stoffels, is a cultural comedian whose material has been performed at the Jive Funny Festival and Comedy Central. His CRAZY COUNTRY COMEDY is sure to have audiences in stitches.

In DIE DRAADSITTER Hakkiesdraad (Jason) Hartman draws inspiration from his Khoi heritage for a performance fusing hip hop, poetry, comedy and philosophy.

In DIRTY LAUNDRY EN VUIL WASGOED written and directed by Jean-Pierre Lesch, an unknown man is faced with the dilemma of finding out who he is and what he is doing in a Laundry, after stumbling in with a bleeding forehead and a gun in his pocket.

Musa Hlatshwayo’s DODA (Mhayise Productions) is a hard-hitting dance theatre duet that highlights and questions black masculinities and patriarchy as a currently experienced in SA.

Makukhanye Art Room presents a double bill of drama: BROKEN:REVISITED and UQHAWUKIL’UNJINGI. BROKEN is a story about three girls that are broken in different ways. UQHAWUKIL’UNJINGI in turn explores the broken connection between the Nguni people, exploring the effects of the African Diaspora and the displacement of an ancestry.

CHAPPIES + AMKIL’AMANTOMBAZANE is another double bill of drama presented by Makukhanye Art Room. CHAPPIES explores the struggle that women in the arts industry face. AMKIL’AMANTOMBAZANE follows the lives of two teenage girls from the village of Swartwater in the Eastern Cape who find themselves victims of human trafficking.

ELLIPSES is an extract from the Cape Academy of Performing Art’s production created for the 2017 National Arts Festival exploring the use and significance of the ellipses.

ERNESTINE DEANE is inspired by the stories of South Africa, particularly the Cape and her music brings a message of love, healing and celebration of the African continent, weaving together a mid-tempo tapestry of jazz, reggae, goema, funk and soul.

FUTURE NOSTALGIA provides a fitting end to the Fringe Club nights. This is a collective ‘For Selectors, Collectors, Deejays and Diggers’ and celebrates the universal love for music, creating a free open space to bring everyone together in the spirit of rare and experimental music.

In Nicola Hanekom’s GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN a group of strangers’ lives become intertwined and turned upside down by the multi-tool of drugs in sport.

Vukani Emalahleni Service Centre and Get Crazeee Productions and Events presents GUG’OTHANDAYO, a musical work about elderly people who took a stand against what is happening around the country to old people by sharing their feeling through music, dance and acting.

GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY, presented by the Umphithi Theatre, tells a story of rural redemption after the murder of villager.

Brendon Peel is back with his unique brand of mentalism and illusion. HOCUS POCUS is a show filled with mysteries and tricks that will knock your socks off.

Hotbox Theatre Company’s I AM NOT YET BORN is a play created by ex-convicts who share their stories and experiences both outside in the criminal world and in jail.

ICOMEDY KONA EKASI presented by the hilarious Kolping Mbumba featuring some of South Africa’s funniest comedians.

Andrew Klazinga’s multi-layered and multi-medium solo work IF I REALLY DID HAVE POWERS (it would like something like this) is a magic and mentalism performance using story and illusion.

Indoni Dance’s IKHAYA meaning ‘home’ is a compelling new contemporary African dance work reflecting on the generations brought up without a sense of home.

IN WHOREFISH BLOOMERS: THE WAITRESSES’ LAMENT is a re-imagining of Sue Pam-Grant and Sheena Stannard’s 1980s underground feminist cabaret. Two Cape Town actresses take on Lori and Beth, waitresses on their first night at a new job. A collection of episodes stuffed with humour, cheesy dance moves, a sprinkle of song and a drizzle of darkness.

ILIZWI LOMZALI is presented by the JMP Foundation and looks at the decisions young people make and the repercussions of these decisions.

ISMISM is an independent work from Makukhanye Art Room directed by Lotanang Makoti and featuring Katharien De Villiers and Khayalethu Mofu which poses this intriguing question as its premise: What is it in this “ISM? ” in being, existing?

IZIQHAMO ZOBOMI is a depiction of life experiences. It is the sound of untold stories told through a journey of music. The group’s melodic voices blend soul, African, traditional and pop music. I-Liso Art Media is based in Khayelitsha.

Gay Capetonian stand-up comedian Eugene ‘Gina’ Mathews and lesbian Gautenger stand-up comedienne Chantal ‘Jax’ Venter join forces for JAX & GINA, the gayest stand-up comedy show in Africa where no topic is off limits.

THE JACK MANTIS BAND aims to create a conscious shift through their music and to hold a space for meaningful shared experiences.

Jefferson Tshabalala stars in Pink Kiri Knob’s J BOBS LIVE – OFF THE RECORD, a live game show where the overt flamboyance of the township, meets the subdued vileness of suburbia.

JENNY AND THE JAMESES is a Celtic folk band comprising singer/songwriter Jennifer Eaves on lead vocals, guitar and piano, James Hall on violin and vocals, and multi-instrumentalist James Harvey on accordion, harp, flutes and vocals. Look forward to a high energy and deeply emotive Celtic Folk experience.

In JOE MA SE BBQ South Africa’s American, Joe Emilio, talks about his experience here in South Africa after coming from Texas, USA. Joe takes everyday scenarios and situations and flips them around for South Africans to see how confusing our country can be for foreigners.

Drama for Life asks pertinent questions about the failure of the father figure in the South African context in the thoughtful and challenging KASI STORIES: A STORY NOT OFTEN TOLD.

KWATHI KE KANTI KALOKU is a celebration of Xhosa children’s literature and indigenous music with Sindiwe “Nomabali” Magona & Bongani Sotshononda and the United Nations of Africa.

LAMENTATIONS is Dave Guzha’s harrowing new work, which chronicles abusive situations. Zimbabwe’s Rooftops Productions perform for the first time as part of the Cape Town Fringe.

LET’S EAT HAIR is an absurdist, word-fest by Carl Laszlo written in 1956. In this new adaptation, the dialogue is coupled with post-modern dance and a fresh interpretation of the text to create a new story that contemporary South African audiences can relate to.

LUKS, penned by Thando Baliso, is the uplifting tale of a young boy who is rescued from himself by the love of his friend. Heart-warming and educational and a great show for small people.

MASHUDU: RED CARD is Mashudu Ramashotha’s first comedy show – it promises hysterical commentary on life in South Africa from road rules to politics and Omashonisa.

MOMENTUM celebrates the vibe, energy and talent found at 34 degrees latitude and 18 degrees longitude. Fast paced modern movements with a vertical lift of ballet makes for an exciting local offering of pure dance.

NAKED GIRLS READING is for everybody who has an appreciation for women, art and storytelling and who can be open to the magic that occurs when all those elements come together. Due to nudity, this event is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

NDENDILE is that rare South African piece of theatre that bridges urban and rural traditions and, in so doing reflects the fact that, regardless of our origins, who we fall in love with is a matter of heart not head.

ONE BIG BLINK is a performance collage choreographed for two performers. Arising from an exchange between choreographer Moyikwa and director Dubazane, it exposes the different sensibilities of these two artists, exploring the relationship between movement, image and performing bodies.

PHEFUMLA (or TO BREATHE) is a Norwegian/SA theatre production directed by Thando Doni, building on his previous acclaimed piece with ex-offenders, UBUZE BAM. The work has been developed through a devised process with four young men from the township areas surrounding Cape Town. All four have been involved or affected by the gang culture. Through glimpses of their childhood, fragments of good and bad memories, we slowly puzzle the pieces of their lives together.

Following a sell-out run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, multi award-winning comedy trio The Pretend Men bring their critically acclaimed theatrical blockbuster POLICE COPS IN SPACE to South Africa – sequel to the 2016 Cape Town Fringe and 2017 National Arts Festival smash hit, POLICE COPS.

In POP-UP IMPROV ImproGuise is taking advantage of the CT Fringe Festival to bring its special brand of outrageous, unmissable theatre made up on the spot, to their favourite theatre, The Alexander.

POWERS OF LIGHTNESS is 62-year-old Tossie van Tonder’s response to South Africa. Described as “a shamanic ritual of release of dark forces, a fearless treading between life and death and a profound catharsis that is a feat of beauty.”

Greg Gelb’s REFOCUSED is full of magical mysteries coupled with belly-aching laughter.

ROCK TO THE CORE is conceived and directed by Mamela Nyamza with creative input from the performers, this piece features Chuma Sopotela, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Zikhona Jacobs and Nyamza. The work aims to shock, shake and shove all there is to the status quo of arts in South Africa, just like rock music that changed the world. This piece will show that black women artists are fed up with the notion that they must protest for people’s pedestal and approval.

SAMTHING SOWETO singer, writer, composer and producer Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba is one of the founding members of the South African acapella group THE SOIL, writing 8 of 11 songs on their multi-platinum selling album. Experimenting with neo-jazz, alternative and a capella in a slick and emotive way, he re-launched his career in 2016 as a solo artist accompanied by a three-piece band.

Nkosinathi Maki wants to explain to you what happens when a child loves detention in his solo comedy show SCHOOLBOY. Maki delves into understanding the life of a black child trying to find meaning in the New South Africa as he shares his story of growing up attending school in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth.

Shaka S. Septembir’s Afrikaans poems, like tequila, have SKOP. Sex, love and death are highlighted when this poetry is linked with music and physical theatre. Gertjie Besselsen (from the band Mr Cat and the Jackal) is the dark figure at the wheel of the music in this Afrikaans language performance.

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY unpacks and unravels the complicated relation between those who desire to transform the townships and those who cannot endure the realities of informal settlements.

Pollyanna Works Musicals and Jazz on the Vlei Productions present the musical offering SONGBOOK SHOWCASE featuring Julian Wenn, Madeegha Anders and Mike Botha.

The SOUL CONNECTION CHOIR and the KHAYELITSHA MUSICAL CHOIR bring the Festival to a close on 8 October with a gospel concert featuring more than 60 voices that will combine amazing tap, dance, a capella and hip hop with township vibe and authenticity to present a scintillating, awe-inspiring concert.

Penned by Thami Mbongo, SPIRIT OF SHAKESPEARE IN AFRICA examines the complicated relationship between a father and a son to illustrate the universal themes and power of Shakespeare’s writings, and its impact on everyday society.

SPLIT is Julia de Rosenwerth’s solo performance piece born out of memories of her childhood, a riveting investigation into memory, sexuality and personal identity.

STANDARD BANK JAZZ WITH BENJAMIN JEPHTA ELEKTRIK for a once-off evening of original jazz compositions interwoven with rap /spoken word. The compositions have a strong African and gospel influence and the sound of the Cape where Jephta grew up. He is joined by Kyle Shepherd, Marcus Wyatt, Sphelelo Mazibuko and Quintin ‘Jitsvinger’ Goliath.

STEKE is a dark comedy performed by two actresses in Afrikaans, English and Setswana. The piece aims to be the voice of women who do not have the courage to raise their voices against those who do not respect them.

Blaq Pearl Foundation presents STORIE VAN MY LEWE, a one woman, one act show featuring performing artist and activist Blaq Pearl who channels the stories of four women who have in common the courage, strength and the ability to rise above their circumstances.

In THE ALCHEMY OF WORDS, three artists from different disciplines – puppetry, film and music – search to capture the enigma of French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. Expect an immersive experience that combines artistic projections, puppetry and live music inspired by the diverse imagery from Rimbaud’s poetry – smoke filled battlefields, the lush countryside of the French Ardennes, colourful vowels, crimson seas…

Hexagon Theatre’s THE BLUE PERIOD OF MILTON VAN DER SPUY by Greig Coetzee is directed by Peter Mitchell and performed by Francis Mennigke. Milton is probably one of Coetzee’s most accomplished works, and questions all notions of art and beauty, within its comic framework.

THE BOOK DETECTIVES, written and performed by Westley Cockrell and Stuart Cairns, is theatre for the whole family. A crime takes place in Fairytale land. The frog that was married to the princess has been murdered. The details are vague and the murderer is a mastermind. It will take Fairytale land’s top detectives to figure out the motive. With impossible witnesses and high speed car chases, these cops have a bad day ahead of them. English and Afrikaans.

THE CHAMPION (Makukhanye Art Room) is an award-winning production that tells the story of a young man who grapples with the legacy of an absent father and a mother who is a grass widow.

Presented by the Gender Equity Unit and directed by Qiqa Nkomo, THE CITIZEN explores the journey of various black women unpacking their citizenship in various economic, political, social, and cultural spaces.

AFDA’s THE COUCH offers a surrealist glimpse into the lives of four housemates moving into a new digs. The couch, a place of relaxation and comfort, triggers the housemates to reveal their true inner psyches and reflect on their unresolved pasts.

Written and directed by Wynne Bredenkamp THE EDGE OF THE LIGHT is a dark and intense drama, flirting with magical realism that looks into a family with an abusive past through the only two women left in it.

In physical and lyrical vignettes and disconnected monologues, THE FUNERAL is a meditation on our own fraught connection with life and death.

THE HOLY PLAN B, written by Thandolwethu Mzembe and directed by Chuma Sopotela and Mzembe, is a wry and satirical look at organised religion and the consumer culture of some Christian churches.

Lunga Mofokeng and Sivuyisile Kibido star in THE KAFFIRS, a story that explores the daily social issues that many South African families go through. Winner of a 2017 Standard Bank Ovation Award.

THE SYSTEM is a multi award winning theatre production that has performed outside South Africa for the past four years. It tells a story of poverty, betrayal, compassion, friendship and injustice in modern day South Africa.

Winner of the Market Theatre’s Zwakala Festival in 2013, THE PLAYROOM is set in a mental institution and veers from the funny to the chilling and questioning issues of leadership, positions of power within the health system and ultimately who is healing whom.

THE SINGING CHAMELEON is an award-winning children’s theatre production that tells the magical tale of chameleon who rises above adversity to become a hero.

Directed by Onida Cowan and performed Dianne Simpson, THE SISTERS UGLY asks where they came from? Why are they so ugly? Did they live happily ever after? This retelling of the classic tale ventures into what makes ‘villains’ tick? What is the story behind their story? Simpson’s prequel ROSE RED is also on the bill. The story of Snow White as seen through the eyes of the ‘Evil’ Stepmother, Rose Red is wickedly fun, thought provoking and touching,

As the water disappears Nomandla is forced to find her inner strength and in the process becomes the hero that we all need, she becomes THE WATER WARRIOR.

TATS NKONZO IS PRIVILEGED is the hilarious confession of how one comedian went from thinking he was an angel to realizing he was an asshole. Winner of the Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award in Grahamstown in 2017.

THE WOMAN WITH A BABY ON HER BACK is an award-winning solo play performed by Pieter van Zyl with direction by Thomas Leabhart. Adapted from the Athol Fugard short story ‘To whom it MUST concern,’ the work is based on a real-life event and portrays the deeply personal journey of a train driver in the Karoo.

Eugene O’Neil’s THIRST is said to be his first play and a response to the tragedy of the Titanic. Directed by Sue Diepeveen, Sugar-Daddy Theatre’s production remains to true to the original play and unfolds a century ago with three characters stranded on a raft without any water…

Lara Foot described Billy Langa’s performance in TSWALO as “An outstanding and unique performance”. The physical theatre piece deals with the question of being, becoming and un-becoming and is directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana.

UBUNTU presented by Makukhanye Entertainment is a multi-disciplinary performance by the Makukhanye Art Room After School Programme performers. More than 20 young people will be taking the audience on a journey of discovery…

UHAMBO is a theatre piece that promises to take audiences on a journey of memory-discovery and action.

Presented by Dance For All (DFA), UNKNOWN CHALLENGES is choreographed by Allison Hendricks and Yaseen Manuel, and will showcase DFA’s lnSPlRAtions Youth Company with students ranging from 16 to 21 years old.

The Zolani Centre’s VUKA is multi-disciplinary work that explores life after death through theatre, music, poetry and contemporary dance.

WOMEN ON THE CROSS presented by Black Roots is performed by a cast of young females painting a story about women and how they face the daily hardships of life. The cross symbolises the pain and weight they carry on their shoulders. It is told through movement and dance.

Using the whirlwind techniques of physical theatre, male actors, Thando Suselo and Lubabalo Nontwana portray the horrors of female human trafficking and the drug trade in WORST OF BOTH WORLDS

ZAMANANI BROTHERS CULTURAL GROUP offer Isicathamiya (traditional a capella music) that traces its roots back to the music of the migrant workers of the 1950s.

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