Preview: Malibongwe Women in Theatre and Performance Festival Volume 2–is taking place on March 5, 2022 at Magnet Theatre and in Observatory Square

What: Malibongwe Women in Theatre and Performance Festival Volume 2, 2022
When: Saturday March 5, 2022
Where: Magnet Theatre, Cape Town, 142 Lower Main Road, Observatory
Time: 10am-4pm
Tickets: R50
Duration: All the featured productions are 20 minutes. Cracking the Spine- a public performance intervention, by Qondiswa James is from 12pm until 12.30pm, at Observatory Square.  The Square is about 100 metres from Magnet Theatre

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The Malibongwe Women in Theatre and Performance Festival Volume 2, 2022

The Malibongwe Women in Arts Project annual festival is happening on March 5, 2022, at Magnet Theatre from 10am-4pm and is presented by Mud&Fire Parables and supported by Department of Sports, Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy. The host is academic, Lwando Scott. The first festival was held in 2019. The festival was conceived by Mud&Fire Parables and the company partnered with iKapa Dance Theatre. The festival did not take place in 2020 and 2021, because of Covid, but it was conceived as an annual event and going forward, it will be held annually. It is wonderful news that this festival is able to take place again, on March 5, with a full programme, which runs from 10am to 4pm at Magnet Theatre. Bookings at Webtickets. Info as supplied:

The programme at the festival

The 2022 edition of the festival, will showcase three “provocative theatre pieces” by Cape Town women, working in the theatre sector. They are: Lee Ann van Rooi, Indalo Stofile, and Qondiswa James. There will also be a featured performance by Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu. The theatre-makers were invited to create 20 minutes-long experimental theatre pieces, under the theme Her Voice, Her Prophecy.

Body of Evidence – on exhibition

Body of Evidence, the flagship project of the theatre company, Mud&FireParables will be on exhibition at the festival. Body of Evidence is supported by Distell. This experimental digital project, is part of a national campaign to stop gender-based violence and femicide.

Funders and partners

The Malibongwe Women in Theatre and Performance Festival Volume 2 would not be taking place without funding. The festival is supported by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy. Other partners are Magnet Theatre, UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies and Distell.

Thoughts from the festival director – Mandla Mbothwe

The Malibongwe Women in Arts Project, is a skills development and job creation project, explains the festival director Mandla Mbothwe. “The festival was started to recognise women in theatre who would normally be acknowledged only as performers. It identifies three women who lead multi-disciplinary performances and stages them in various communities in the Western Cape. Ngo kwenza nje siphuthuma udlwengulo lweNkumbulo, soyisa ubunxaxha,” He adds: “Each one of them has to identify a community centre and facilitate skills exchange workshops for interested youth. The idea is to promote inter-generational skills development between established women practitioners and emerging theatre directors, stage curators, sound and lighting technicians. This year, the productions draw inspiration from three public figures Saartjie Baartman, Winnie Mandela and Miriam Makeba.

Ma G, the gatekeeper by Lee Ann van Rooi- living in a spiritual world away from the disturbance of modern life.

Lee Ann van Rooi’s Ma G, the gatekeeper is about a woman who stays at home. It is a one hander and van Rooi performs in the piece and is also in the director’s seat. The character, Ma G lives in a spiritual world away from the disturbance of modern life. “Ma G cannot go out shopping because the modern world is destruction to her calling. She is the gatekeeper for the souls who need to cross over. “The souls come calling anytime and Ma G must be ready all the time”, explains van Rooi. “Some souls are easy to let through, leaving behind joy and laughter. Others require Ma G’s energy to hold the darkness of their soul at bay so it can freely cross into the light, sometimes she wins, sometimes she cannot.” Van Rooi’s piece has “drawn inspiration from Saartjie Baartman. She is an elder ancestor who has transcended during most difficult times of slavery. She is a spiritual figure that helps women leaders of modern times transcend smoothly to become role models in today’s society.

Abahambi by Indalo Stofile – healing in the post-apartheid era

Indalo Stofile’s Abahambi deals with issues of healing in the post-apartheid era. Stofile believes that art is a therapeutic movement that empowers black people, especially femme multitudes who have been oppressed for decades. “For many decades unjust apartheid laws separated communities and killed the spirit of love and ubuntu,” says Stofile, “Nothing much has changed to this day. We have to re-unite.” Inspired by the iconic ode to Saartjie Bartman by poet Dianna Ferrus, ‘I’ve Come To Take You Home’, Abahambi is a story about women who have walked in a landscape of patriarchal conquest through history and how their spirits echo in the voices of women today. An experimental stream of consciousness production, the work involves song, dance and poetry moving between isiXhosa and English text. At its core the production looks at reclamation of women’s historical memory so that black women may gain a deeper understanding of themselves today. 

Cracking the Spine, by Qondiswa James – ruptures from urban gentrification

Cracking the Spine is by Qondiswa James. The award-winning theatre maker recently staged an intervention, ‘a nation in mourning’, ahead of State of the Nation Address outside the City Hall this year. In Cracking the Spine, she looks at the effects of urban gentrification in Cape Town and its traumatic dislocating of poor communities, dumping them in less resourced areas. She also deals with issues of lack of shelter and social housing, asking pivotal questions about ‘so-called homelessness’. Cracking the Spine is a public art intervention created and performed by James and directed by Thembela Madliki and will be staged on site, at Observatory Square. Magnet Theatre is about 100 metres away from the Square. Cracking the Spine is 30 minutes.

Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu- featured artist at the festival

Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu, musical director of the Nguvu ya Mbegu Sonic Bridge, is this year’s featured artist. The piece draws directly from the life of Enoch Mgijima and the Bulhoek Massacre of 1921. The work attempts to assist people to connect with their true selves, with the unseen and to test the present world. It claims the truth and wisdom of multiple prophecies in our collective memory to connect us to healing.


Lee-Ann van Rooi is a multi-award winning, highly versatile actor, director and producer and has credits that stretch across various mediums of film, TV, stage, puppetry, academics, and radio – both locally and internationally. Van Rooi is one of South Africa’s most iconic storytellers with a particular interest in growing sustainable, omni-inclusive, emotionally, and culturally conscious performers and audiences alike, those who support arts and culture in a responsible and fair way. In all her directorial contributions to date, she has endeavoured to flip the existing narrative to amend the representation of people of colour. Offering a feminine perspective, she constantly seeks to unpack stories filled with heart. This she does with respect while rooted deeply within an Africa driven context, without being apologetic.

Indalo Stofile is an actress, writer and performance artist. She graduated with a degree in Theatre and Performance from UCT. Indalo has performed in Qondiswa James’ A Faint Patch of Light (which won a 2019 Standard Bank Ovation Award), and Nwabisa Plaatjie’s rendition of Alice Childress’ Florence & Wine in the Wilderness for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Lead Respectively at the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards (2020). She showcased an original performance art intervention on GBV+F, Esemihla ngeMihla, curated with Chuma Sopotela, at Malibongwe Women in Theatre Festival (2020). Most recently she has been in Nguvu Ya Mbegu by Mandla Mbothwe and produced by the State Theatre; and Surviving Gaza (2022) a South African action driven film by Vusi Africa.

Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, performance artist, film and theatre performer, instillation artist, writer, arts facilitator, and activist. She has received her Masters in Live Art, Interdisciplinary and Public Art and Public Spheres at the Institute of Creative Arts. Her work engages the socio-political imagination towards mobilising transgression.

Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu is a 2020 Fleur Du Cap Theatre awards winner for best sound design, original music/ live performance. She is an international performer, actress, and musician trained at Magnet Theatre and she is currently doing part-time teaching and facilitates music for different companies across the country. Her debut album is currently available on all the online digital stores.


Arrive 10am
10:30 – 11:00    SHORT FILM PRESENTATION: Malibongwe Women in Theatre Festival Volume 1 (5 minutes)
WELCOME: Mandla Mbothwe, Qondiswa James 10 minutes)

OPENING: Lwando Scott (5 minutes)
11:00 – 11:30   

Performance 1 11:30 – 12:30   
Performance 2 12:00 – 12:30   
Performance 3 12:30 – 13:00   
Performance 4   13:00 – 13:30  

BREAK 13:30 – 14:00   

PANEL: Indalo Stofile, Lee-Ann van Rooi, Qondiswa James,  Thembela Madliki, Zimbini Makwetu, moderated by Lwando Scott 14:00 – 14:30    PANEL cont. 14:30 – 15:00    PANEL cont.

CLOSING: Mandla Mbothwe, Qondiswa James
15:00 – 15:30  

Each piece will run for 20 minutes with 5 minute transitions in between  

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Cracking the Spine: Thembela Madliki (director) and Qondiswa James (writer/actor/performer).
One hander: Lee-Ann van Rooi’s play, Ma G, will be showcased at the Malibongwe Women in Theatre and Performance Festival Volume 2 on March 5, 2022, at Magnet Theatre, Cape Town.

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