1st Edition

Strategies for Survival at SIBIKWA 1988 – 2021 Landmarks of South African Theatre History

Edited By Phyllis Klotz, Smal Ndaba Copyright 2023
    286 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book provides an engaging and contextualised insight into a South African township-based arts centre that has survived the vicissitudes of steady militarisation in townships during some of the worst years of apartheid as well as the exhilaration of a new democratic policy while attempting to circumnavigate different policies and funding dispensations.

    Sibikwa provides arts centres across the world and especially those in decolonising countries with strategies for survival in tumultuous times. This multi-disciplinary book maps and co-ordinates wider historical, political, and social contextual concerns and events with matters specific to a community-based east of Johannesburg and provides an exploration and analysis by experts of authentic theatre-making and performance, dance, indigenous music, arts in education and NGO governance. It has contemporary significance and raises important questions regarding inclusivity and transformation, the function and future of arts centres, community-based applied arts practices, creativity, and international partnerships.

    This study will be of great interest to students and scholars in theatre and performance, indigenous music, dance, and South African history.

    List of contributors



    PART 1

    Chapter 1. The Political is Personal: Smal Ndaba and Phyllis Klotz in Thumbnail Portraits of Origins and Orientations

    Sarah Roberts

    Chapter 2. Founding Sibikwa: A Professional Partnership Tempered in the Forge of Apartheid’s Final Years

    Sarah Roberts

    Chapter 3. Democracy, the First Decade: The Mandela-Mbeki Years (1994-2005)

    Sarah Roberts

    Chapter 4. The Trouble with Freedom: Mbeki’s Dream of an African Renaissance, Nation-building and Issues Surrounding HIV/AIDS in South Africa

    Sarah Roberts

    Chapter 5. Issues of Governance, Policy, Delivery, and Accountability Escalate: Sibikwa Responds to Developments in Arts and Culture Policy Documents and with Theatre-in-Education Projects

    Sarah Roberts


    Chapter 6. The Struggle for Social Justice in Confronting Gender-based Violence and Srategies of Intensifying an African Cultural Heritage as the Project Moves into the Future

    Sarah Roberts

    Appendix :1 A Chronology of Major Political Events, Cultural Developments and Sibikwa Plays


    Chapter 7. Governance of Sibikwa Arts Centre: A Reflection on the Agility, Progress, and Longevity of the Organisation

    Munyaradzi Chatikobo and Caryn Green

    Chapter 8. Sibikwa’s Educational Programmes

    Vanessa Bower and Hazel Barnes

    Appendix 2: A Chronology of Educational and Vocational Training Programmes

    Chapter 9. Living Proof: Thirty Years of Sibikwa’s Theatre Productions

    Sarah Roberts

    Appendix 3: A Chronology of Sibikwa Productions

    Chapter 10. Celebrating Sibikwa’s Legacy of Dance and Physical Theatre from Community to Professional Dance Development

    Clare Craighead and Lliane Loots

    Appendix 4: A Chronology of Sibikwa Dance Company Productions and Festivals

    Chapter 11. Keeping the African Sound Relevant

    Evans Netshivhambe

    Appendix 5: A Chronology of Sibikwa’s Music History

    Chapter 12. Framing the Intersectional Gender Politics of the Sibikwa Legacy

    Lliane Loots

    Appendix 6- A Chronology of Gender Based Productions, Festivals and Training



    List of Contributors

    Phyllis Klotz is the artistic director and co-founder of the Sibikwa Arts Centre in Benoni and has been at the forefront of arts training and development for youth for over 40 years. Her work has always been focused on the empowerment of young black females. She has been and still is involved in developmental theatre and arts education and is recognised as an expert in the development of community arts centres. She is the recipient of several awards for her contribution to South African theatre and has directed and co-written the seminal theatre piece, You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock. She has served on boards of the National Arts Council, State Theatre, CATHSSETA and the Market Theatre. She is also the recipient of the Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Smal Ndaba is the co-founder and managing director of the Sibikwa Arts Centre; as an actor, playwright and director he has toured all over Southern Africa, the USA and Europe and has gained both national and international recognition for his work. He has initiated arts programmes to assist street children and juvenile prisoners; he assists South African and Mozambican community arts centres to build capacity. The majority of plays directed and written by Smal, focus on community issues. Smal has over 30 years’ experience working in the community arts and imparts his knowledge frequently through conducting workshops in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the USA. He is joint winner of the Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award 2005 with co-director Phyllis Klotz.

    Prof Hazel Barnes is retired head of the Drama and Performance Studies Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus where she lectured, researched, performed and directed theatre and also developed the applied drama and theatre option. She was the university orator for a number of years and also assistant Dean. Since retirement she has been a Mellon visiting scholar at the University of Cape Town and visiting lecturer and chair of the research committee of the Drama for Life Programme University of the Witwatersrand. She has written on the use of applied drama with the deaf, for reconciliation and trauma recovery, and on the work of South African playwrights, Greig Coetzee, whose plays she has anthologised, and Mandla Mothwe.

    Vanessa Bower studied English and Speech & Drama and taught at various institutions in Cape Town. In 1998 she joined the staff of Sibikwa Community Theatre Project, where she facilitated teacher training programmes for seven years. She was later involved in the Learnership Programmes and subsequently trained a number of artists in arts facilitation at Sibikwa, in preparation for the Artists in Schools Programme. She has published a book on Assessment of Arts & Culture and has produced Creative Arts teacher support manuals for the Gauteng Department of Education. She has also provided training in Workplace Communications.

    Munyaradzi Chatikobo is a Lecturer in Drama for Life and Cultural Policy and Management in the Wits School of Arts. He has considerable experience in Cultural Leadership and Arts Management training. His academic and research interests are in Cultural Policy and Management which includes Community Arts, Culture and Development, Cultural and Creative Industries, Culture and Diplomacy as well as Social and Cultural Entrepreneurship. He is a board member for Nhimbe Trust and CHIPAWO Trust in Zimbabwe. He is also a Non-Executive Director of Andani.Africa. He is a registered PhD candidate in the Wits School of Arts and his area of study is Cultural Policy and Community Theatre in South Africa. In 2018 he teamed up with Avril Joffe, Johanna Mavhungu and Annabell Lebethe to author a book chapter on Cultural Governance in South Africa. The chapter appears in a book edited by Ian W King and Annick Schramme titled Cultural Governance in the Global Context; An International Perspective on Arts Organisations (Palgrave).

    Clare Craighead has been the company manager to Flatfoot Dance Company for the past 15 years. She holds an MA degree in Drama and Performance Studies from UKZN and has published in Critical Arts, South African Theatre Journal, South African Dance Journal and Agenda: A Journal of Feminist Media. Craighead spearheaded and continues to facilitate the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival’s graduate writing residency programme. "JOMBA! KHULUMA". which is an intensive platform that takes graduate students - under festival conditions - through the rigours of reviewing and critically engaging dance. She has also been a contract lecturer/tutor to UKZN’s Drama and Performance Studies and Gender Studies Programmes and has a long-standing position as a moderator for Embury Institute for Education’s "Education and Diversity" module. Currently she is working as a lecturer at Durban University of Technology’s Drama and Production Studies Department.

    Dr Lliane Loots holds the position of Lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has a MA degree in Gender Studies and completed her PhD in 2018 looking at contemporary dance/performance histories on the African continent. As an artist/scholar her PhD research is framed within an ethnographic and autoethnographic paradigm with a focus on narrative as methodology. Loots has published widely within this area of academic/praxis enquiry. Loots holds the founding position of Artistic Director for UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts annual international JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience – a festival that turns 23 in 2021. She has recently completed a 3-year stretch on the National Arts Festival’s Artistic Committee for dance. Loots founded Flatfoot Dance Company as a professional dance company in 2003 when it grew out of a dance training programme that originally began in 1994. As the artistic director and resident choreographer for Flatfoot, she has won numerous national choreographic awards and commissions and has travelled extensively in Europe, America and within the African continent with her dance work. Loots was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 2017 for her work in the South African dance sector.

    Dr Evans Netshivhambe (ORCiD: 0000-0003-0362-4110) is a young South African composer lecturing in African music at the University of Pretoria with an interest in African music identity through African art composition. His PhD in African music composition incorporates Venda rhythmic elements into African art music, exploring a new 'sound world' through composition. He is currently a lecturer in African music studies, at the University of Pretoria. In 2008, Evans was awarded third prize in a choral music competition held by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), which showcased 20th century choral music style. He also received three commissions from the SAMRO Foundation (in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively).

    Dr Sarah Roberts (ORCiD:0000-0002-4383-4668) areer synthesises professional practice with a commitment to education, development and scholarship. Recently retired from the University of the Witwatersrand, where she was an Associate Professor, she has developed and implemented a range of undergraduate courses in cultural studies, performance and design in the Division of Theatre and Performance. Her focus on developing improvisation skills and the agency of actors as an ensemble is documented in publications in the Journal of the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa and the Journal of Contemporary Drama in English. A multi-award-winning professional production designer, her portfolio includes significant productions emerging from South Africa since 1985 including designing the stage for the Union Building Gardens for President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in addition to landmark productions across the spectrum of musical theatre, contemporary dance and drama, including Sarafina!, Sophiatown and Nothing But the Truth. These productions, including a significant number of Sibikwa productions over the span of thirty years, have been feted nationally and internationally. One of the original Board members of Sibikwa at its inception, she served as a trustee for the project for ten years and has since continued to be closely associated with a range of Sibikwa projects, productions and conferences.


    Phyllis Klotz is the artistic director and co-founder of the Sibikwa Arts Centre in Benoni.

    Smal Ndaba is the co-founder and managing director of the Sibikwa Arts Centre in Benoni.