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Entertainment Happening On Mzansi’s Stages

To be or not to be? Be! Most definitely, be! After two long, hard years, theatres are bouncing back, and there’s loads of live entertainment happening on Mzansi’s stages once more. This month, we encourage you to catch a show and feel the spark, fizzle and electricity of watching real people on a real stage once again…

Mixed dance card

Pictured are Jawaun Bester and Lex Gruver in WGRUV Dance Company’s debut performance of Phetogo, which combines contemporary, ballet and Spanish dance styles in an exciting collaboration at the Atterbury Theatre in Tshwane for a short season from 20–22 May. Also coming up at the Atterbury is cabaret artist and storyteller Nataniël in his new show Lovesick Tim (23–25 June); and Amanda Strydom whose Miss M in Konsert is happening from 29–30 June.

Serious stuff

Fresh from staging such productions as the musical King Cetshwayo in March, the Soweto Theatre has a short run (from early May) of Isenyuso, inspired by Chinua Achebe’s acclaimed novel Things Fall Apart. Something sobering and serious to get you in the mood for winter when stages at this active theatre will have plenty to keep you entertained.

It’s a little bit funny…

Like many theatres, the Baxter was hit hard by the pandemic, but there’ve been several world-class shows in its theatres already; this summer they even hosted music concerts on the lawns. An annual Baxter favourite is the month-long Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, which is back with a vengeance from 6 June. The festival hosts Mzansi’s best stand-ups plus international acts (such as the UK’s Graeme Mathews, Japan’s Yosuke Ikeda, and the puppet-musical Canadian act, Cabaret Décadanse).


Swan song

Mzansi has waited many moons for St Petersburg Ballet’s Swan Lake to finally hit our shores. The show was initially scheduled for 2020, but then came the pandemic and several postponements. Hold tight though, it’s finally (finger’s crossed) coming to South Africa and will be staged first at Artscape in Cape Town and then at The Teatro at Montecasino in Joburg this July. Tchaikovsky’s music is captivating, and the choreography and tragic tale will keep you enthralled. And a one, two, three, four…


Viva Evita!

Make a date to catch Pieter-Dirk Uys or alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout at the relaunched Evita se Perron Theatre in the West Coast town of Darling. Keep an eye on the website’s calendar and book for midday performances on Saturdays and Sundays – the line-up includes Tannie Evita Praat Kaktus, An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish!, and South Africa’s funniest theatre variant Lockup/Lockdown. And consider making a full day of it by having brunch in the attached cafe (no bookings), before the show, or late lunch at the fine-dining Kossie Sikelela restaurant (book on Dineplan) afterwards. There’s also a museum, a bookstore, and a deli where you can buy Tannie Evita’s fudge made by Darling Sweet.


A family affair

Always a biggie for the Joburg Theatre, Janice Honeyman’s end-of-year pantomime never fails to thrill children and keep entire families entertained. The veteran director always plugs her fairytales with jokes that grown-ups will appreciate, too. There are always wonderful costumes, larger-than-life-characters and shoo-wow effects, not to mention songs, crazy gags and silly rhymes. This year, the show is Janice Honeyman’s Adventures in Pantoland, which brings together pantomime characters such as Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Aladdin, Pinocchio and Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) in a daring journey to find the ‘Golden Goblet of Goodness’. The panto is only in November, but if you can’t wait that long, keep in mind that songstress Belinda Davids will be doing her popular Whitney Houston-inspired show, The Greatest Love of All at the theatre in July.

Absolutely fabulous
Theatre icon Pieter-Dirk Uys on our new normal

‘During the last two years, I was able to do the things I would never usually have had the time to even consider. Not only did I read a 667-page biography of Leonard Bernstein (composer, classical genius, superstar guru), but I found time to sort out the mess behind closed cupboard doors – books, files, CDs, DVDs, old LPs, socks, false eyelashes: an orgy of spring cleaning. The puzzle of Napoleon crossing the Alps is complicated and obsessive. Also a pain when you realise that the puzzle piece of Napoleon’s nose is lost! Probably because the cat had sat on it and the nose ended up somewhere in the garden.

Conversations with my cat were essential. As were explorations under the hedge for the tortoise. Feeding more birds than I have seen in the garden who were celebrating the fact that people were locked up at last. And, of course, I was also planning what to do once the pandemic subsided, once I’d had my vaccines, and the theatres could open once again. 

There will have to be a new normal. What we left behind will not be what we rediscover. The bad, which we took for granted, will be replaced by a new bad. The new good is what we might find; things that necessity demanded under lockdown and now can be allowed to become a beginning. Office blocks (empty because people can work from home) might make way for new apartments in the heart of cities. Communities can celebrate their survival with the experiences of lockdown having strengthened neighbourliness. We might realise that every social crisis during the pandemic was anchored in community life that had been allowed to crumble during our 26 years of democracy: housing, access to water, focus on health, safety and security, the education of children, old-age care…’


Words: Joshua Craig White & Keith Bain; Photography: Lauge Sorenson, courtesy images

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