About Us

The Zabalaza Theatre Festival

The Zabalaza Theatre Festival

In 2011 the Baxter Theatre Centre launched its Zabalaza Theatre Festival (formerly known as Ikhwezi) with a new name, managing team, vision, format and programme. The Festival is now in its 4th year and has gone from strength to strength. In 2013, the festival ran from the 2nd to the 23rd of March, while the 2014 Festival saw a great leap forward in terms of artistic integrity and support from the local theatre-going public.

Previous Best of Zabalaza Winners

2014: The Champion by Khayalethu Anthony.

2013: Skierlik by Phillip Dikotla

2012: Worst of Both Worlds by Bulelani Mabutyana

2011: Uhlazo by Loyiso Damoyi

Phillip M Dikotla Skierlik Front Cover 010813 Bulelani Mabutyana Worst of Both Worlds Front Cover 010813 The team heading up the festival consists of Thami Mbongo (Artistic Director), Zoleka Helesi (Co-ordinator) and Bongile Mantsai (PRO). All three actors were cast members of Lara Foot’s critically acclaimed successes Karoo Moose and Woyzeck. The dynamic trio intend to ensure that this premier development platform – arguably one of the top of its kind in South Africa – forms a fundamental part of the Baxter’s broader vision of becoming a vibrant and integrated cultural hub, reflecting the diversity of the country’s demographics for all its patrons, communities, artists and visitors.


  • To encourage and contribute to the development of new South African work by providing a platform for artists who want to venture into acting, stage management, writing and directing
  • To provide an ongoing skills programme in areas of theatre-making to upcoming artists
  • To identify raw talents in theatre groups and companies
  • To promote and build a culture of attending theatre among new audiences
  • To provide mentorship/internships to deserving individuals (writers, directors, stage managers, actors, etc.) who would like to take up theatre as a career
  • To provide guidance and information, where necessary, to upcoming artists



  1. Identify and nurture talent:
    • Visit theatre groups and companies around Western Cape
    • Attend theatre festivals all around South Africa
  2. Build theatre audiences:
    • Encourage and build a culture of attending theatre for new audiences
    • Create full theatre experiences for audiences as well as performers
  3. Create performance platforms through the following activities:
    • Mini-festivals
    • Main Festival (with an award ceremony)
    • Community theatre group showcases, debates and career exhibitions
  4. Skills development workshops
    • Stage management
    • Script-writing/devising a production
    • Directing
    • Acting
    • Arts administration and management
    • Theatre design
    • Marketing
  5. Mentorship/internship programmes:
    • Adopt / mentor a theatre group initiative
    • Joint productions
    • Young writers’ initiative (script development)
    • Best of Zabalaza season

    If you are interested in being part of the Festival you can e-mail the Zabalaza team on baxterzabalaza@uct.ac.za, or you can call the Zabalaza Office on (021) 680 3980.