Brett Bailey

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Brett Bailey (1967- ) [1]. South African playwright, designer, play director, festival curator and the artistic director of Third World Bunfight [2].

Studies and training

Completed a post graduate diploma in performance studies at the Dasarts Master of Theatre in Amsterdam.


He has worked throughout South Africa, and in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Haiti, the UK and across Europe. Founded his company The Third World Bunfight in 1996 with Miranda Williams and created a number of enormously controversial and exciting works utilizing the talents of “non-actors” alongside professional performers. Among his acclaimed dramas, which interrogate the dynamics of the post-colonial world, are Big Dada (2001), Ipi Zombi? (1996), iMumbo Jumbo (1997), The Prophet (1999), Orpheus (2009), MedEia (2005). His performance installations include Blood Diamonds: Terminal and Exhibit A: Deutsch Sudwestafrika (2012), Exhibit B, Sanctuary (2017). He directed the opening show at the 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture (2009), and from 2006 until 20011 has directed the opening shows for the Harare International Festival of the Arts. He has been the curator of Africa Centre's Infecting the City since 2008. Winner of the Fleur du Cap Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for New Directors in 2001. His works have played across Europe, Australia and Africa, and have one several awards, including a gold medal for design at the Prague Quadrennial (2007).

In his book The Plays of Miracle and Wonder: Ipi Zombi?, iMumbo Jumbo, The Prophet, Juta and Company Ltd, 2003, Bailey describes in detail his work with a large cast of non-professional actors and musicians, township dwellers, real-life sangomas [traditional healers] and school children in the creation of the trilogy. His company of performers were drawn mostly from the inhabitants of the Rini township outside Grahamstown and he premièred the three plays at consecutive Grahamstown Festivals from 1997 through 1999.

Awards, etc.

He received the top cutural award, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), from the French ambassador to South Africa on behalf of French president Emmanuel Macron on 12 February 2019.


Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Die Burger, 14 February 2019.

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