Community theatre, long a tradition in the townships, has received a boost with the launching of the Reflections theatre festival.
Launched last week at Afronova Gallery in Newtown by the National Community Theatre for Education and Development Network, the inaugural festival will take place at the Wits Theatre in Johannesburg on December 8 and 9.
The aim of the festival is to correct the misconception that community theatre presents low-quality of productions and has deficient administrative skills.
"Community theatre has also been wrongly regarded as a junior cousin to mainstream theatre. This is wrong because, as far as we are concerned, we are equal to mainstream theatre," said Mpho Molepo, a seasoned community-theatre activist.
"There are many successful companies employing several artists in the townships, and some of the productions by these companies are of a high quality, comparing well with those produced in the mainstream," he said.
Molepo said discussions with the organisers of the Naledi Awards, in which it is being proposed that they include community theatre, were at an advanced stage.
"This is to offer recognition to community theatre. The plays that will be eligible for nomination in the proposed new category will be those that have been performed at the festival."
This year the plays that will grace the stages at the festival are Choices, written and directed by Luscious Nkantu Dosi, Down the Graveside, written and directed by Pat Sanku Bokaba, Echoes, directed by Oscar Motsikoe, Herebedesh, workshopped with the cast members, and Hold Up the Sun, directed by Julia Seleke Mokoto.
Other productions are Ka-Nyamazane, directed by Mncedisi Baldwin Tshabangu, Veil of Tears, directed by Ntshieng Mokgoro, The Toilet, written by Peter Ngwenya and Bongani Linda, and Sexes, directed by Thabo Makgaretsa.