Community Theatre Festival

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As a generic term

A term used to refer to festivals set up to showcase work from Community Theatre practitioners and groups. There have been a number of such initiatives in South Africa.

See also Community Theatre and Festival

Specific Community Theatre festivals

The Market Theatre Laboratory's Community Theatre Festival

This originated as the Fieldworkers Festival in 198*, but became the the MarketLaboratory Annual Community Festival or Market Lab Annual Community Theatre Festival in 1992. The project is intended to prepare and present the work of up to 50 community theatre groups and present a showcase of these in a semi-professional setting. It is put on annually at the Market Theatre Laboratory, Johannesburg.

See Market Theatre Laboratory.

The Ikhwezi Theatre Festival at the Baxter Theatre

(Also referred to as the Ikhwezi Community Theatre Festival at times or simply the Ikhwezi Festival) Inititated in 1998 with Itumeleng Wa-Lehulere as Festival Director, it forms part of the Baxter Theatre Centre’s Ikhwezi Outreach Programme. As part of the programme, directors' workshops are held throughout the year, and selected performance groups visit the Baxter Theatre Centre to present their plays and workshop their theatre skills during the Festival – usually held Two plays are usually selected from the festival productions for a special run in the Sanlam Studio, billed as "The Best of Ikhwezi". The festival received a National Arts and Culture Trust Award for its contribution in 2004.

In 2011 the Baxter Theatre Centre changed the name of the Ikhwezi Festival to the Zabalaza Theatre Festival, with a new managing team, vision, format and programme.


Baxter Theatre Centre website at

The Mzansi Fela Community Arts Festival at the State Theatre

Originally known as the Mzansi Fela Community Arts Festival, it is now more often referred to simply as the Mzansi Fela Festival, also by the organisers.

Founded in 2007, this festival has had a Community Theatre component from the start, to showcase the work of all the community art groups involved in the Fieldwork Programme run by the State Theatre. The two-week long festival also involves masterclasses by individual artists from the arts industry. In this respect, a key theatre element of the festival has therefore been the focus on South African theatre through the Community Arts Dramaturgy Outreach Programme (CADO), which is a two-year programme - with the first year focusing solely on South African classics. This initiative is an important platform for amateur writers, directors and performers, since the second year leads to presentations of original works by the community groups involved.

The impact has also been felt on a wider basis. For example, in 2010, two groups that had been participating in the Mzansi Fela Festival since 2007, toured the townships in and around Pretoria with their own plays that they developed while in the fieldwork programme, and since 2011 successful groups have been given the opportunity to mount professional productions at the Momentum Theatre and the National Arts Festival.


State Theatre website[1]

The Isigcawu Community Theatre Festival at the Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre

A festival that provides a platform for community theatre and for the new performances developed by the Twist Theatre Development Projects in Durban and surroundings.


The Zabalaza Theatre Festival at the Baxter Theatre Centre

In 2011 the Baxter Theatre Centre changed the name of the existing Ikhwezi Festival to the Zabalaza Theatre Festival, with a new managing team, vision, format and programme. This is now referred to as a "development festival", and is presented annually by the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town. In essence a community festival which showcases community productions from all over the Western Cape, in an effort to develop local artistry, it was first presented in 2011, and usually takes place in March.


"Zabalaza Theatre Festival is here!" Publicity letter from Leon van Zyl (, sent on behalf of the Baxter Theatre Centre , Friday, 11 March, 2016.

Baxter Theatre Centre website at

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