Zabalaza Theatre Festival

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The Zabalaza Theatre Festival is a festival presented annually by the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.

Referred to as a "development festival", it is in essence a community theatre festival which showcases community productions from all over the Western Cape, in an effort to develop local artistry.

Initiated by co-founders and coordinators Lara Foot and and Zoleka Helesi, it was first presented in 2011, and usually takes place in March.

The 2016 festival for example consisted of the Zabalaza Weekend on Saturday, 12 and Sunday, 13 March, when all venues and spaces in the theatre complex offered diverse artistic activities, be followed by the Main Programme (14 to 18 March)and an award ceremony on the Saturday the 19th March. The winning production receives a full run at the Baxter Theatre later in the year.

In 2018 the Festival first instituted the Zabalaza Challenge, a project to encourage individuals, businesses and organisations to purchase bulk tickets, at the price of only R30 each, for those who might not be able to afford them or would not otherwise be able to attend.

In 2021, its 11th year, the festival, featuring 200 artists and 21 productions, ran from 19 to 27 March under rather restricted circumatances, subject to the COVID-19 Level 1 restrictions, with all protocols in place. The 11th festival was dedicated to the memory of Zoleka Helesi, co-founder and coordinator of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival since its inception, who sadly passed away on 11 December 2020.

See also Community Theatre Festival


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

"Zabalaza Theatre Festival", The Baxter newsletter, Tue 2021/03/16 13:48[1]

Baxter Theatre Centre website at

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