"We are very proud of the achievements of the Zabalaza team and the festival's phenomenal growth in just three years," said Baxter Theatre CEO and artistic director Lara Foot. "The festival is dedicated to the principles of development. We are committed to an integrated and holistic approach where mentoring, support, knowledge sharing and active engagement with the communities are fundamental to its success."
Almost 250 groups were visited and auditioned over a three-month period last year. To make the final selection, six mini-festivals were then held across the Western Cape. Now, more than 200 performers are set to star in more than 30 theatrical productions in genres from hip hop and poetry to musical theatre and opera.
The festival ends with an awards ceremony in which the best actor and best actress winners will go on to audition for Generations, a popular South African soap opera. But more than just recognising and showcasing talent, the festival aims to emphasise the power of theatre and the arts, something we need now more than ever.
Lara Foot spoke about theatre as a place of truth and rest. Dr Ivan Meyer, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, spoke about the arts as a way of developing hope and trust. And theatre luminary Dr John Kani explained why social cohesion can only come from the arts. Even though the arts were not mentioned once in the State of the Nation address or the Budget Speech, it'll be hard to ignore talent like this for long.
The Zabalaza Theatre Festival is at Cape Town's Baxter Theatre until 23 March. Tickets, reasonably priced at just R20 or R25, are available from Computicket. For discounted block bookings, contact Sharon (email@example.com and +27 (0)21 680 3962) or Carmen (firstname.lastname@example.org and +27 (0)21 680 3993) during office hours. For more information, email moc.liamg@lavitsefazalabaz or go to www.facebook.com/zabalazafestival.