Applications Now Open for Baxter's 2015 Zabalaza Theatre Festival

John Kani welcomes some of the  groups from PE, Knysna and Thembisa who are here for the Zabalaza Theatre  Festival
John Kani welcomes some of the groups from PE,
Knysna and Thembisa to the Zabalaza Theatre Festival

The Baxter's Zabalaza Theatre Festival is calling for applications from theatre-makers, directors, script writers, community groups and theatre companies to participate in the 2015 Zabalaza Theatre Festival. The highly popular development festival will take place at the Baxter Theatre Centre from 20-28 March 2015 and the deadline for applications is 3 October 2014. Productions which are selected from applications received will first be auditioned and will then be invited to participate in the Zabalaza mini-festivals, which are planned for January 2015, when the final selection for the 2015 festival line-up will be made. Auditions take place from 6 October through to 12 December this year, so artists are strongly encouraged to apply early.

The Festival organisers are looking for one or two-handers, children's theatre productions, puppetry, musical theatre, drama, comedy, physical theatre and storytelling. Interested community groups and theatre-makers from outside the Western Cape are also welcome to apply.

"As we are celebrating our fifth year next year, we would really like to encourage artists to challenge themselves creatively and move beyond their artistic comfort zones," says Thami Mbongo, artistic director of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival. "Our festival is about artistry and therefore does not have any limits. The full range, in any genre, is most welcome to be part of this event and, most importantly, we would also like to see more diversity in terms of participants as well as audiences."

Zoleka Helesi, Zabalaza co-ordinator, agrees, "We have seen children's theatre growing at a rapid rate each year on our programme and there is a great demand from the audiences, especially schools. I want to encourage artists and companies to create theatre for the little ones as well; we want them to be exposed to and experience the magic of theatre."

Previous festival participants are also welcome to apply, provided that they bring an entirely different production. Those who auditioned in 2014 and were not selected to be part of the programme may apply with the same production, provided that they can show that they have worked on improving it.

Some of the participants at the  2014 Zabalaza Theatre Festival launch
Participants at the 2014 Zabalaza Theatre Festival launch

The Zabalaza festival team has already been hard at work searching for productions that will be part of next year's festival. They attended the Eden Drama Festival and Cape Wineland Drama Festival and the winners of those festivals will form part of next year's programme. The final selection from these regions will be made in November.

"We would once again like to thank the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport for their generous assistance and support and for believing in the work we are doing," says Bongile Mantsai, Zabalaza PRO and financial manager. "We hope to grow the festival even more so that we can continue to offer innovative aspects while reaching far more communities and theatre-makers, so we appeal to corporates and the businesses sector to help to achieve this goal. The aim is to develop it into an African festival that serves other parts of our continent as well."

The Baxter Theatre Centre launched its Zabalaza Theatre Festival in 2011, with a new name, managing team, vision, format and programme designed to showcase new and upcoming talent that may otherwise not be seen on professional stages. The 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. Previous winners of the Zabalaza Best Production award are UHLAZO by Loyiso Damoyi (2011), THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS by Bulelani Mabutyana (2012), SKIERLIK by Phillip Dikotla (2013) and THE CHAMPION by Khayalethu Anthony (2014).

Applications for the 2015 Zabalaza Theatre Festival close on 3 October 2014 and entry forms may be obtained from the festival office at the Baxter Theatre Centre, Main Road, Rondebosch. They can also be downloaded from or The amount of funding available will determine how many of these can be accepted. Applicants will be informed of the result of their applications. For further enquiries or more information, contact Ziyanda Mxokozeli ( or Zoleka Helesi ( or the Zabalaza Festival Office ( Contact can also be made by telephone (021 680 3980) or fax (021 689 1880).

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