THE MARKET THEATRE – A creative Revolution

ACTOR SPACES | JHB Market Theatre

Celebrating 40 years of story telling

The Market Theatre Foundation successfully celebrated 4 decades of Story Telling on Sunday 19June 2016. What was once a Johannesburg Indian Market, since 1913, is now an iconic theatre
Boasting over 30 awards, a history of defiance and a playground for well renowned artists
such as Vanessa Cooke, Athol Fugard, Mannie Manim Barney Simonds, Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Pamela Nomvete, Winston Ntshona, Athol Fugard and many more.
It was also the birthplace for many leading South African playwrights.

Dubbed the peoples theatre due to its racially integrated productions, it attracted
people of all cultures and poked at the Group Areas Act. It became an inclusive social hang out spot, something that gave one an idea of what the New South Africa must look like.

‘‘The Market Theatre was a social space that had given me hope in the 1970s to imagine
the possibilities that a new South Africa could bring.’
Ismail Mohamed|CF

Architect Rodney Grosskopf who in his lifetime has designed the Alexander Theatre, Johannesburg Civic Theatre saw the potential to turn a derelict market into a theatre.

‘The building survived demolition because someone discovered that it bears historical significance, being the biggest three pin arch building in the African Continent, built in a swamp.’

Founded by Mannie Manin and the late Barney Simonds days after the June 16 massacre.
A day when the South African Police opened fire at students protesting against
Afrikaans as the medium for learning. One could easily call the theatre ‘the revenge of the 1976.

Fast forward to 2016 and the people’s theatre is still standing as one of South Africa’s most important
legacies. James Ngcobo now sits as Artistic Director.
The main theatre was renamed Dr John Khani, June of 2014, a multi- award winning actor,
director and playwright who now serves as patron and ambassador to the theater

The Market Theatre truly embodies the words of Ernst Fischer
‘In a decaying society art if it is truthful must reflect the decay’


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