A Spotlight on Cultural Diversity: Transformation & Healing Through the Arts


Over 60 years ago, more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the pass laws and inhumane Apartheid legislation. Discriminated against, based on the colour of their skin, the pass laws directly affected their personal lives as well as their economic emancipation. Then Democracy dawned, and we identified iconic events that led to our emancipation from the shackles of Apartheid. August 9, the historic day these women marched and it was declared a public holiday known, as Women’s Day.

This year marks the 12th edition of the Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival (AWHAF) from 20 July – 18 August, funded by the City of Cape Town with the theme “A Spotlight on Cultural Diversity: Transformation & Healing Through the Arts”.


On August 9, 1963, Ruth First was arrested and kept in solitary confinement under the notorious 90-day clause, becoming the first white woman to be arrested under this act. The festival will officially open on August 1, to coincide with the Ruth First:117 Days production to set the tone for the rest of the Women’s Month programme at Artscape Theatre.

“The festival is dedicated to iconic women who led the struggle and to modern day “she-roes”, 
Artscape Theatre is celebrating the centenary of Albertina Sisulu and Ruth First as well as modern day activists through the arts, Lee-Ann van Rooi, Siphokazi Jonas and the late disabled activist, Patience Lunika”, shares Marlene Le Roux, CEO Artscape Theatre.

“The festival continues to balance the playing fields to achieve equality for all. We continuously aim to highlight the many women who tirelessly and bravely work towards achieving socio-economic and gender equality”, says Thoko Ntshinga, Director Inclusive Arts Unit at Artscape Theatre.

So, what’s in store at the Artscape Theatre Centre this year at the AWHAF? On stage, the Fostering Foundation in association with Artscape Theatre is launching, Fostering Fever where students under the mentorship of Sophia Foster will be showcased from 20 -21 July at the Arena. The foundation was established to develop talent, offer workshops and offer free tuition to students. They are groomed in stage performance, vocal training, stage craft, choreography and microphone techniques. The students are sourced from Khayelitsha, Maitland, Belhar, Paarl, and surrounding areas.


Divalicious Dames – Here’s to Life is back by popular demand on 27 and 28 July at the Arena where the brilliant drag and mime artists Ramsay Davids and Martin Neethling take a trip down memory lane.


After a sensational, sell-out debut at the National Arts Festival in 2016, Ruth First:117 Days comes to Artscape.  She was detained, persecuted, exiled and eventually assassinated for her activism and beliefs. Ruth First:117 Days dramatises First’s harrowing, 1963 arrest and detention under the notorious 90-day clause from 31 July – 4 August. Directed by Marcel Meyer with Jackie Rens as Ruth First.


Inspired by one of the most beloved fairytales of all time, Bollywood Enchanted brings together some of your all-time favourite Bollywood songs in a weave of song and dance.  Taare Dance, presents an inspired adaptation of a timeless classic from 3 – 5 August under the direction of   Ahneesh Valodia.


Another woman on fire, Siphokazi Jonas director, Around the Fire, a unique South African story of four women Mbali, Faiza, Amber and Angel set around a makeshift fire on a rainy night in Cape Town. They are brought together by unexpected circumstances and form a bond. Mbali, the homeless guardian of the fire, an Eastern Cape ‘refugee’, unravels the stories that brought them together while trying to find her space in a city that renders her invisible. This production is a fusion of theatre, poetry and live music that runs from 8 – 11 August.


Fine feathers preened, false eyelashes fluttering and sequins glittering, the fiercely feminine/masculine are gathering to celebrate the world of ‘lip sync’, the Absolutely Fabulously Drag show takes centre stage for the second year running. New on the scene, Odidiva Mfenyana comperes the evening, as they pay tribute to the late Reverend Rowan Smith. Top class drag divas Vida von Tabisher, SA’s Got Talent 2016 runner-up Manila von Teez, as well as Kat Gilardi, Jayde Kay Johnson and Angel Lalamore of gay cabaret “3D trio” fame, will showcase present-day glory.  Camillo Lombard maintains a strict tempo, while Basil Appollis stitches it all together and cracks the designer whip as Director. A surprise special guest is on the cards for 11 August.


We continue to put the spotlight on iconic women at the festival, Lee-Ann Van Rooi who is no stranger to the public eye, South African actor, educator and director of Liefde is Rooi at his year’s fest from 14 – 18 August.  An Afrikaans play written by 22 year-old Enrico Hartzenberg, Liefde is Rooi is a story of victory in a ghetto community of Cape Town where there is no time for love. No time for regret, just time to survive. Directed by Lee-Ann van Rooi and performed by Kay Smith, Chanel Kock and Gershwin Mias.


The Artscape Theatre Complex will be buzzing with activities on Women’s Day, August 9. The South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI), Woman Zone and Artscape Theatre coodinated and facilitated the Humanity Walk from Schotschekloof Civic Centre, Yusuf Drive, Bo Kaap that kicks off at 09:00 down to Artscape Theatre where more than 100 stakeholders will be exhibiting their work throughout the day. The theme this year is Uniting in Faith and all are welcome – women, children and men to join this iconic Walk.


CANSA in partnership with TBHIV and OTSM home base cares, will conduct health screening such as breast, blood pressure, blood glucose testing and health and wellness risk assessments. Legal advice and counselling will be offered by the Southern Suburbs Legal Advice Centre (SSLAC).


The Humanity Lunch Table is the brainchild of Naushad Khan, founder and managing editor of The Next 48hOURS. Together with Roxanne Khan, they have sponsored a free meal for all festival attendants since 2014.  Communities attending this year’s festival will again be provided with a meal and refreshments.


The festival will include a free Piazza Production which will include a flash mob, line dancing, traditional dancers, singing and choral music, amongst others.  Groups and artists included in the line-up will be the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, Kleinvlei Fitness Club, Likwezi Dancers, Women Unite, Cape Cultural Collective Rosa Choir, Anathi Mabo (jazz vocalist), Siphesihle (Dee) Mayekane (jazz vocalist), Buyelekhaya Cultural Dancers and others.


The Department of Home Affairs is participating in the Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival by promoting Good Citizenship through talks, ID handovers and educational materials.


Tickets for the festival’s productions are available from Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695. Discounts are available for students, seniors and block bookings.

For more information about the Artscape Women Humanity Arts Festival, click on the link below to download the official festival brochure.


Artscape Women Humanity Arts Festival Brochure 2018