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Reflecting Excellence: The Market Theatre Foundation's Journey into 2024/25

Author: JT Comms
Date: 25 Apr 2024

The Market Theatre Foundation proudly reflects on a year of exceptional performances and community engagement as it gears up to launch its exciting programme for 2024/25. Building on a year of significant success and new energy under Artistic Director, Greg Homann, the Foundation has enjoyed over 55,000 attendees at productions and events over the past twelve months, including multiple sell-out shows and over 40 Naledi Nominations. While the Foundation continues to advance its commitment to pushing boundaries and promoting diverse voices in South African arts and culture, it is also working to find enhanced synergy across its four units - The Market Lab, The Market Theatre, The Market Photo Workshop, and the Windybrow Arts Centre.

"The past year has been about building on the good brand of The Market Theatre Foundation while honing in on what this legacy stands for," said Homann. "We're thrilled to continue this momentum into the new season, offering audiences an array of thought-provoking productions and activities that celebrate our rich heritage, tackle pressing social issues, entertain, and enable artists of all levels of experience."

The completion of the refurbished Barney Simon Theatre ushers an added vitalisation of the Market Theatre, coupled with the refreshing of the Market Theatre bar and the transformation of the iconic "Gramadoelas" space into a multifunctional venue. These invigorated spaces promise to be a hub of cultural vibrancy, offering a diverse array of events including jazz nights, spoken word performances, poetry gatherings, book launches, cabaret shows, stand-up comedy acts, and drag performances. Available for rental functions, this versatile historic building aims to cater to the dynamic needs of its community. Moreover, with the addition of a newly equipped kitchen, the Market Theatre will soon introduce light meals to complement its rich cultural offerings, enhancing the overall experience for patrons in the second half of the year.

Across 2024, The Market Theatre Foundation proudly presents a season of work titled "30 Years of Democracy," honouring South Africa's journey to democracy while confronting contemporary societal challenges. Notable productions include "The Cry of Winnie Mandela," a poignant exploration of history and the enduring resilience of South African women; "The Brothers, Number One and a Weekend Special," a narrative delving into power dynamics, influence, and the rise of State Capture; "The Unlikely Secret Agent," a moving portrayal of bravery amidst adversity, based on Eleanor Kasrils' true story; and "The Robert Sobukwe Project," commemorating the centenary of Sobukwe's birth by delving into his correspondence with journalist Benjamin Pogrund during his imprisonment on Robben Island.

Alongside these productions are three dynamic festivals: Jomba! @ The Market, KAZA KAMBA Pan African Theatre Festival, and The Newtown Jazz & Heritage Festival, each showcasing a diverse array of talent locally, from across the continent, and beyond.

The Market Theatre Foundation is committed to fostering partnerships that enrich and diversify the cultural landscape. This year, it will collaborate with many esteemed partners and organizations. Homann shared that, “The Market Theatre Foundation recognizes the invaluable contributions of its partners, which this year include Aardklop, the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), Niki’s Jazz Oasis, the French Institute, PACOFS, ArtsINSIDEOUT, The Art Cave, World Press Photo Foundation, The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, The Centre for the Less Good Idea, and many others.” He adds, “These partnerships are more vital than ever to us in the current economy, making our programming possible, enriching our offering and extending our reach. Together, we can create a more inclusive and dynamic arts community."

As part of the Foundation’s commitment to developing new work and talent, the Market Theatre announces a new call-out for artists to submit scripts. Theatre-makers and playwrights can also apply to be an Associate Playwright, or secure a slot at Kippies Fringe to present their work. Last year's Play Development Programme yielded Qondiswa Jame’s new play, ‘Amaxelegu,’ which the theatre is now producing for full production to be staged in August.

The Market Photo Workshop is thrilled to formally introduce its accredited Foundation Course, a significant addition to its educational offerings. Accredited by the Media Information and Communication Technologies (MICT) Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) and pitched at NQF4 level, the course aims to empower students with crucial skills in written and oral literacy, as well as practical mathematics tailored for real-life and business applications. This comprehensive program merges artistic storytelling with practical knowledge, providing students with a well-rounded education to succeed in various professional endeavours. The course merges artistic storytelling with technology, responding well to a world moving to AI.

The Market Theatre Lab continues to offer part-time courses in acting, screenwriting, and performance, providing opportunities for aspiring artists to hone their craft. It also announces a return of the Saturday Showcases, Dlala Wena! Cherae Halley, Head of The Market Lab says, “Many moons ago, theatre practitioners from all around Johannesburg would gather at the Market Lab on a Saturday and present their work-in-progress to an open audience for constructive criticism and artistic input.” This year, The Lab team will host two showcases, one in May and one in August - open to creatives between the ages of 16 – 35. You’re invited to secure your place and showcase an extract of your new creative project.

Of special note is the announcement of the JOMBA! CCA and Market Theatre Phakamsia Dance Commission, which seeks to support innovative South African dance makers. This annual commission will seek out extraordinary South African dance makers whose work is shifting narratives in both content and form. For 2024, the Phakamisa commission is awarded to Cape Town based Yaseen Manual whose deeply personal and deeply political dance work about his own South African Muslim trajectory linked to ideas of home and belonging, offers dance making at its most dangerous and edgy.

The Windybrow Arts Centre offers two compelling offerings: First, they present Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to My Native Land, a seminal work of African literature that continues to resonate today with its poignant exploration of colonial oppression and the power of art to transcend boundaries. Through the innovative efforts of Césaire Youth, a teenage arts group, the poem is reimagined and translated into the contemporary context of Hillbrow, reflecting on its themes of identity and liberation. Secondly, Hey Hillbrow! Let’s Dlala! is a vibrant celebration of public performance, taking place on Africa Day and curated by Kwasha! Theatre Company in collaboration with local organizations. This event brings joy and wonder to the streets of Hillbrow, showcasing the creativity and resilience of the community. By fostering such initiatives, the Windybrow Arts Centre demonstrates its commitment to building meaningful relationships with its neighbours and providing a platform for young people to engage with the arts.

Additionally, the Market Theatre Foundation will continue its commitment to storytelling that transcends borders with productions like "Katanga, January 17" which sheds light on the impact of war in the eastern DRC, emphasizing our interconnectedness as Africans.

Greg Homann, Artistic Director of the Market Theatre Foundation, remarked, "Our programme entrenches the Market Theatre as the home of new South African work, telling our stories through various artistic mediums. We welcome a diverse range of work that aims to depict the complexity of where and how we live today."

As the Foundation prepares to unveil more productions in the coming weeks, it remains steadfast in its mission to inspire, challenge, and entertain audiences while fostering meaningful dialogue and reflection within our society.

As The Market Theatre Foundation embarks on this exciting new season, it remains dedicated to pushing boundaries, promoting diversity, and telling the stories that matter.

Keep an eye on The Market Theatre’s website for more announcements as the Foundation continues to expand its programme and engage with audiences across South Africa and beyond.

For media inquiries orinterview requests contact media@jtcomms.co.za or call (011)788 7632

Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of The Market Theatre Foundation - https://markettheatre.co.za/

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