This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa; and it will be marked with a wide range of classics and original productions.
The aim is to honour the deep political and cultural heritage of the city as well as that of the country.
The Market Theatre has a unique historical background from the apartheid era.
The space was used as a fruit market, so they didn't have a space for theatre but they had this dream and this vision that they wanted to do a theatre. And this theatre was going to be primarily where black people can be able to come and express themselves as theatre people
“The space was used as a fruit market, so they didn’t have a space for theatre but they had this dream and this vision that they wanted to do a theatre. And this theatre was going to be primarily where black people can be able to come and express themselves as theatre people,” said Grace Mokoena, patron of the theatre.
This was a non-racial theatre where blacks and whites worked together on equal terms during South Africa’s apartheid regime.
“The theatre was really a catalyst to a lot of dialogue that happened between people who were artificially separated by the system of the time and this became a ticket for escapism for people who were living in Joburg and had very clear laws as to where you should be who you should be,” said James Ngcobo, Director of the Theatre.
The popularity of the theatre continues and has grown from the apartheid era of just story telling to modern-day arts.
“I’d say the Market Theatre has really catered for us, as a platform for us to explore our stories in order to showcase to the South African Market,” said Zama-Afrika Mhkize, a film director.
The theatre was a beacon of light that brought the story of South Africa to the world stage and won many accolades for its courage, commitment and artistic integrity.
The iconic institution remains a place where barriers fall, especially in a period rocked by racial tensions.