Athol Fugard is the best known of South African playwrights internationally. Some of his finest plays include Boesman and Lena and Master Harold and the Boys, and there is now a theatre in Cape Town named after him. Most controversial of contemporary playwrights is the brilliant Brett Bailey, a white man more “township” than many blacks, who creates electrifying, chaotic visual and physical theatre, often using untrained actors and dancers in his Third World Bunfight company (thirdworldbunfight.co.za). The company puts on theatre productions, installations, house music shows and opera, mostly concerned with the post-colonial landscape of Africa. You are as likely to catch his work in Europe as you ever are in Cape Town – the schedules appear on his website – but try to go to anything at all which may be on while you’re in the city.
Cape Town’s premier physical theatre company, Magnet (magnettheatre.co.za), produces consistently excellent, politically conscious, non-didactic physical theatre. Magnet sometimes collaborates with Jazzart contemporary dance/theatre company (jazzart.co.za) where you’ll see the finest black dancers in town, who have forged a fusion of Western and African dance in their work. Cape Town-born RSC actor Sir Anthony Sher is the city’s most famous son, appearing occasionally in the mother city in some fabulous productions, including an Africanized Tempest in 2009 and Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass in 2011.
South Africa’s best-known stage satirist is Pieter Dirk Uys, whose character Evita Bezuidenhout, South Africa’s answer to Dame Edna Everidge, has relentlessly roasted South African society since apartheid days. He often performs in Cape Town, though the best place to catch him is on a dedicated day out, over the weekend, in Darling, an hour out of Cape Town. New generation home-grown comedians to look out for include Marc Lottering, a coloured Capetonian who derives his material from his own community; Nik Rabinowitz, an irreverent middle-class Jewish boy who uses his fluency in Xhosa to poke fun at cultural stereotypes; and Riyaad Moosa, a Muslim doctor turned comedian. If he is visiting from Gauteng, catch Trevor Noah, one of the most talented young South African stand-ups.