The Playhouse Company, an Agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, presents its annual South African Women’s Arts Festival in Durban from 7-18 August.

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF).

“To celebrate this momentous landmark, our SAWAF roster is jam-packed with frontline shows, featuring South Africa’s latest and greatest theatrical productions, performers, directors, writers, and choreographers,” says The Playhouse Company’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Linda Bukhosini. “In keeping with Women’s Month, SAWAF’s mix of dance, drama, music, dialogue, arts and craft showcases the determination of South African women to find freedom, respect, and equality in our society.”

“Wathinta Abafazi”. Photo by Val Adamson.

Wathinta Abafazi, Wathint’Imbokodo

In August 1956, over 20,000 women of all races marched in unison to the Union Buildings in Pretoria protesting against unjust apartheid pass laws. The march led to significant changes towards the emancipation of women. The 1986 stage production, You Strike the Woman, You Strike the Rock commemorated the 30th anniversary of that event. Now more than six decades on, this fresh new retrospective, adapted and directed by Matjamela Motloung for the Playhouse Actors Studio, asks how far have women’s rights progressed, and how much is still to be achieved? This gripping piece combines novel elements of fashion and photography with theatre. Runs in The Grand Foyer from 7-11 August, tickets are R80.


This powerful new Playhouse Dance Residency vehicle choreographed by Lulu Mlangeni explores gender stereotyping, and the negative effects it causes. By tapping into the energy of unlimited human imagination, these barriers can be swept aside, freeing up the human race to realize and rejoice in its full potential to the benefit of all. Runs in The Drama Theatre from 8-11 August. Tickets are R80.

Gala Concert

This year, the country also celebrates the centenary of one of the great daughters of the African soil, Mama Albertina Sisulu, who dedicated her life to the fight for the emancipation of women and the liberation of South Africa; among those who fought relentlessly and played a significant role to attain the freedom we enjoy today was Mama Winnie Mandela. The Playhouse Company pays tribute to such icons under the theme “Be the Legacy”, with an extravagant concert starring Khanyo Maphumulo and Gloria Bosman featuring the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and the Playhouse Chorale. Opera Theatre on Saturday 11 August, tickets are R100 – R150.

Scars. Photo by Val Adamson.


Musa Hlatswayo’s compelling new dance piece pays tribute to the women of KwaZulu-Natal who leave their homes to find work in the chaos of the city. Combining video and slide projections with dance, the work unflinchingly evokes a captured journey of multifaceted moments that cast light on these women in their adopted workspace. Runs in The Drama Theatre from 7-11 August, tickets are R85.

Confessions of a Blacklisted Woman: She Bellows

Written, directed and developed by Zimkitha Kumbaca, this intriguing presentation by Onalerona Collaborations incorporates music, poetry, and dance into a satirical work which interrogates the representation of women in contemporary South African society: Are black woman at the bottom of the food chain? What is consent culture? Are African skin and hair being replaced with plastic? Runs ina The Drama Theatre from 15-18 August, tickets are R80.

Womb of Fire

This multi-award winning one-hander exposes the effects of colonialism through the vivid use of allegory. Set against the episode of the India epic, The Mahabharata, the play interweaves personal narrative and contemporary realities with the lives of two women from the founding years of the Cape Colony to interrogate the Womb of Fire that birthed South Africa. Directed by Dr. Sara Matchett with design by Craig Leo, Womb of Fire is written and performed by Rehane Abrahams with vocal accompaniment by Lukhanyiso Skosana. Runs in The Loft Theatre from 15-18 August, tickets are R85.

Confessions of a Blacklisted Woman – She Bellows. Press photo.

Dialogue: Be the Legacy

Commemorating the legacies of Mama Winnie Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, we ask: What can we learn from the legacies of the past, and how further do we need to progress to ensure a free, safe and better life for women and girls in South Africa? This session will be chaired by Professor Deevia Bhana (UKZN) heading a panel that includes: Crispin Hemson (DUT Peace/gender activist); Kwezi Becker (UKZN Student); and Dr. Delarise Mulqueeny (Living with HIV). Alhambra Room on 12 August at 12:00. Admission is free.

Arts and Craft Exhibition: The Secret of Beads

The richness of Zulu culture is celebrated through beadwork and throws light on social structures and changing customs in different areas. Curated by Hlengiwe Dube, the fascinating catalog looks at the Zulu beliefs system of their ancestors and how they affect the community at large. These beliefs were crystallized through the intervention of traditional healers who used beads to express themselves through instructions from the ancestors. On view in the Alhambra Room throughout the festival, with interactive displays in the Main Foyer 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and 18 August at 10:00. Admission is free.

Guitar Workshop

This exciting element in the SAWAF programme will be curated by Kelly Grevler of Sidewalk Sessions. Children between the ages of 6 to 16 will receive free guitar lessons. The event will feature the performances of Biko & Mana Nhlangothi. The Grand Foyer on 11 August between 12:00 and 14:00. Admission is free.

Womb of Fire. Photo by Rob Keith.


Sundowner Concerts

SAWAF also includes added attractions of four Sundowner concerts. These vibey jazz events are up for grabs on: 10 August (featuring Dawn ‘Thandeka’ King); 11 August (spotlighting Khumbu and Nozuko Lilitha and Ndu Shezi); 17 August (showcasing Angel Zondo); and 18 August (with the Dani Foster Trio). Main Foyer at 17:00. Admission is free.

Bookings via Computicket outlets; telephonic bookings on 0861 915 8000, and online bookings at Alternatively, patrons can call the Playhouse Box Office on 031-369 9540 or 369 9596 (office hours). For school bookings at R30 per learner, call 031 369 9407 or e-mail

Related Event:

SA Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF)
Dates: Tuesday, 7th August 2018 – Saturday, 18th August 2018

Related Venue:

Playhouse, Durban KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
This post originally appeared on Artslink on July 13, 2018 and has been reposted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by William Charlton-Perkins.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.