Theatre in the Dark

What:  Curated season – a response to the impact of load shedding, via experimental theatre that creates intimate imaginary landscapes in an Eskom-free season
Where: Theatre Arts, Methodist Church Hall, corner Milton Road and Wesley Street, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925
When: February 15-25, 2024
Tickets: Available online at from December 15, 2023
Info: For updates about the shows, follow Theatre Arts on Instagram and Facebook    

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet

I am very excited to attend Theatre in the Dark at Theatre Arts in Observatory – on from February 15-25, 2024. The season was conceived as a response to load shedding. There are 11 productions – including drama, improv, dance and shows for kids. The lighting is off the Eskom grid: Rechargeable lighting, torches, lanterns, paraffin l etc. This is unplugged theatre. Nine of the shows are at Theatre Arts. An Evening in the Company of Grief will be presented in a living room in Plumstead. Eat The Stars is a site specific performance at the South African Astronomical Society.

Consider these words by Stephen Hawking (supplied by the team of Eat The Stars):

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.

Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.

Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”

Love that.                                                       

Artistic prompt – load shedding

Theatre Arts runs independently and does not have funds for a generator or an alternative power source solution. Theatre Arts artistic director, Caroline Calburn has had to dedicate hours to programming around load shedding scheduling. Theatre in the Dark dialogues not only with the physical implications of load shedding but also with the emotional – anxiety, fear, dislocation. Darkness may conceal but it also provides space and a refuge to gather, unseen, to share ideas and commune together and find a shared light.

An Evening in the Company of Grief

An Evening in the Company of Grief, directed by Lara Bye, will be presented in the living room in Plumstead (February 14-17). The writers are Karen Jeynes, Robyn Scott and Lara Bye: “The literal darkness of load shedding has much in common with the physical darkness of grief. We live with constant reminders that all is not well. We adjust, we rally, we continue, but our world is constantly jarring us. Scott will share insights about “her own mourning process, where she shares her own journey of grief, where she’s at, and where she’s walking towards.” There will be rituals to “help us process grief, and opportunities to laugh, cry, and let go…These are the conversations we feel safest having in the dark. We will gradually bring them into the light.”

In Transit

Sibahle Mabaso who is based in Bloemfontein and is bringing her play, In Transit, to Theatre in the Dark. It is on February 17-19 (Theatre Arts). The performers are Fika Majozini and Katelynne Matthews. They devised the play with Mabaso. She says: “This piece reimagines what could possibly lie between the end of one’s existence in one realm and the beginning of their existence in another. It explores what is but is not – stepping momentarily into the shoes of anyone – you, I, us – who has ever had to come to terms with being in transit, or not.” Interview:


Djeli, directed by Mmatumisang Motsisi and Tiffani Dlamini, is a “story about family, culture, redemption and history.” This “visual production incorporates elements of sound, visual imagery and creates an extended metaphor with its light sources, like paraffin lamps and candles.” This “visual production incorporates elements of sound, visual imagery and creates an extended metaphor with its light sources, like paraffin lamps and candles.”  It is on February 20-23 at Theatre Arts. See: Interview:

Cantos of a Life in Exile

I loved Cantos of a Life in Exile, created and performed by Makhaola Ndebele, the acclaimed Johannesburg-based creative. I saw this beautiful piece of life, longing, family, identity, last year at Theatre Arts in 2023. It is a piece very much about harnessing light in exile and dark places and finding heling through theatre. Cantos is on February 23-25 at Theatre Arts. Review: Interview:

The Flowers at Night

Megan Nell is from Johannesburg and she is bringing The Flowers at Night (February 15- 18, Theatre Arts). This piece is “an intricate and beautiful play of light and body, exploring the wonder and beauty of our indigenous flowers which grow and bloom in the most impossible conditions.”

Love’s Light

Lee van Wyk, who is a sight-impaired singer and pianist is performing Love’s Light and is inviting us into “her world of darkness and the light within.” (February 15, 17 and 22, Theatre Arts).


Diapason (February 19- 21 at Theatre Arts) is a “two-hander sensory symphony composed of light, sound and shadows. Conducted by its creators Nawaal Adams and Savannah Steyn, the bizarre performance belts out the tale of two people as they mutter, curse and play through the stages of South Africa’s lockdown.”

Eat the Stars

Eat the Stars is on at the South African Astronomical Observatory, 1 Observatory Road, Observatory (February 22-25). This site-specific performance is a “meditation in dance, poetry, and space on the metaphor of human stories in a cosmic context. The light we’re made of. The light inside.” Direction and costumes by Jaqueline Dommisse.


Bat (February 16, Theatre Arts), created and is performed by Improguise, is described as improvisation in the format of old-time radio. “The Bat is an Improv format pioneered by Chicago-based Improviser Joe Bill, celebrated as ‘theatre of the mind’. It is a fusion of the “HAROLD, a renowned longform improvisation format where performers thread together diverse characters, scenes, and storylines, and the nostalgic essence of old-time radio plays. The audience is invited to close their eyes, immersing themselves in a world of darkness full of auditory delight.“ For all ages.Red Boots and The Heart of the Ocean

Red Boots and The Heart of the Ocean

There are two productions for young audiences at Theatre Arts (both on February 24, 25). Red Boots, directed by Caroline Calburn is for tots – 1-3 year olds, exploring “friendship, loss and adventure”. The Heart of the Ocean, created and performed by Jori Snell is for 3-7 year olds and “celebrates the forces of nature and the imagination”.

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