South African Cultural Observatory

So Solo Festival

27 SEP 2017 - 08 OCT 2017
Category: Festival
Region: Gauteng
Town: Johannesburg
Cover Charge: Yes
Contact Details: • For Block bookings contact: Bridget or Yuhl at and • For Media and PR enquiries contact Bridget on 011 7171376 or email • Wits Theatre Box office: 011 7171381
Booking Details:




Wits Theatre is proud to present the So Solo 2017 Festival from 27 September to 8 October. Now in its fourth year, the much-acclaimed festival has become an annual barometer of the predominant undercurrents within South African society.


Established by Gita Pather, Director of Wits Theatre in 2013, the So Solo Festival celebrates the one-person play and offers audiences a diversity of thought provoking theatrical experiences from some of South Africa’s most talented actors. This year’s chosen plays allow audiences to immerse themselves in the stories that reflect the huge diversity of experience and reality.


“Solo performers delve deeply into themselves to create performances that reflect the overt and subliminal dilemmas of a country wrestling with multiple demons. Their experiences are our experiences as we struggle to find a sense of self, to fix an identity, to make sense of our world rocked each day by forces that are seemingly beyond our control,” says Pather.


“I have always believed in the power of the word. That power is intensified in performance and never more so than in the solo performer, who for the duration of a performance grabs our attention, forces us to focus, think and reflect. And that is what the arts do…it changes us and surely that is what we need…change?“ she adds.


Identity is a predominant theme at this year’s festival with twelve actors interrogating personal histories, values and aspirations against the volatile turbulence of a society in flux. Each production is different, its creative form reflective of the amazing talent that epitomises the performing arts in South Africa.


The line-up features Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Penelope Youngleson’s award-winning combination of oral tradition, song, instrumentation and physical theatre in A Man and a Dog, will be playing in Gauteng for the very first time.  Linda Tshabalala’s Books and Boxes unpacks the art and trauma of a writer attempting to record his experience while James Cairns gets his audience involved in creating  his solo improvised show James Cairns Against Humanity. Agony, conceived by the late Greg Melvill-Smith and Douglas Thistlewhite and performed by Wits alumni Craig Morris grapples with male identity in all its tortured complexity. Mark Tatham’s new work Man Up is about an unbridled masculinity personified in the life of Brian Mitchell, a South African street gym workout champion.


Our women artists too subject their identities to scrutiny. Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja and Abby Molz examine the complex experiences of womanhood in My Koek is Moeg. Kgomotso Nkomo under the direction of Linda wa ka Shabangu explores a young girl’s spiritual awakening in Nomvula - A Candle in the Rain. Hannah Van Tonder and Paul Noko journey into an interrogation of culture, values and traditions in The Cursed Vagina. Tebogo Radebe uses participatory theatre performance in Painful Joy to unravel the secret musings of a waiter and Rob van Vuuren brings his special style of comedy to the Wits stage in a one-night-only performance of The best of Rob van Vuuren and Billy Langa celebrates the art of the solo performance in Tswalo.


The So Solo 2017 commissioned play is Tracks, Maude Sandham’s poignant and deeply personal exploration of her family’s history through her grandfather Alan Sandham’s story. By tracking the myths, retelling the stories and delving into the memories of Alan, Maud engages with the past in a way that allows us to understand the present.

“Maude Sandham‘s creative career is reflective of a mind constantly engaging with the nuanced complexities of being a young South African. Tracks was commissioned for So Solo 2017 because the personal story she chooses to tell is really the historical legacy of Apartheid and its lingering tendrils today,” says Pather.

Please check the attached schedule for times, dates and venues. Tickets are available at or you can book online or through any Pick n Pay store. Even better, you can load your ticket on your Pick n Pay Smart Shopper card. Tickets can also be purchased at Wits Theatre’s Box Office. Contact Yuhl on / Bridget  for block bookings.

Ticket prices are as follows:        

Full price online – R75.00

Full price at Box office – R 80.00

Pensioner, Wits Staff and Student Discount online – R 60.00 on presentation of ID document or valid student card

Pensioner, Wits Staff and Student Discount Box office – R 65.00 (on presentation of ID document or valid student card

 Wits Theatre Box office: 011 717 1381

Facebook: Wits Theatre

Twitter: @WisTheatre1

Instagram: witstheatre<



TRACKS: So Solo commissioned play for 2017

Tracks excavates the layers of myth and memory of Alan Sandham. Alan grew up in pre-Apartheid Fordsburg and in his early 20’s moved to Crosby, a suburb of predominantly White railway families. A father and bricklayer at the South African Railway, Alan was a man of poise with a strong sense of duty (?) obligation (?). Yet he was a man with a secret, one uncovered by the Sandham family years after he died, a secret he kept for most of his life.

Maude Sandham, his granddaughter follows a trail of unanswered questions and unexplained silences about her grandfather’s past through the personal narratives retold by her family, painting a poignant picture of a man who led a dual existence on ‘both sides of the track’.

In this one-woman show, Maude tracks the fragments of her family’s history, retelling stories of her grandfather and thus bringing to light the paralleled personal and national effects of the Regime. Tracks uncovers the familiar stories we tell to fill the gaps in the documentation printed in the South African history books.

By Maude Sandham and Nicola Pilkington

Date:                            Wednesday 27 September @ 1.15pm

Thursday 28 September @ 7.30pm

Friday 29 September @ 6.30pm

Sunday 1 October @ 6.30pm

Wednesday 4 October @ 7.30pm

Thursday 5 October @ 1.15pm and 6pm

Friday 6 October @ 7.15pm

Saturday 7 October @ 4pm

Sunday 8 October @ 3pm


Venue:                          Downstairs Theatre

Running Time:               50 minutes

Age Restriction:            10+



Written as a personal reflection for Mkhwanazi on his life growing up in KZN and his isiZulu identity, it explores a homecoming familiar to so many South Africans: who are our ancestors…and how do we know who we are until we know where we truly come from?

This award winning play makes use of oral tradition, song, instrumentation and physical theatre to weave together a retelling of our collective family as South Africans. A rediscovery of ourselves …a remembering of what it means to be of this country.


Story by Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi

Written and directed by Penelope Youngleson   

Performed by Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi

Set and Costume Design by Penelope Youngleson


Date:                            Friday 6 October @ 8.30pm

                                   Saturday 7 October @ 7pm

Venue:                          Amphitheatre

Running Time:               62 minutes

Age Restriction:            none



In Loving Memory of Greg Melvill-Smith.


Conceived by Greg Melvill-Smith and Douglas Thistlewhite, written by Iain Paton, AGONY tells the story of Malcolm Leask, a man and his cats, coming to terms with where life has left him…a dark, but ultimately redemptive experience.


Agony is sophisticated, poignant and deeply moving theatre that touches on themes of abuse, rape and male identity. Malcolm is portrayed by award-winning actor Craig Morris. AGONY won a prestigious Standard Bank Ovation Award at the 2017 National Arts Festival.



Conceived by Greg Melvill-Smith and Doug Thistlewhite

Performed by Craig Morris

Directed by Megan Willson

Written by Iain Paton    

Puppet design by Jenni-lee Crewe 

Lighting design by Barry Strydom       


Date:                            Friday 29 September @ 8.30pm

Saturday 30 September @ 5pm

Sunday 8 October @ 6pm

Venue:                          Downstairs Theatre

Running time:                65 minutes

Age Restriction:            16+



Everyone has a story to tell and writing down one’s experiences maybe akin to turning the pages of a book or unpacking a box of memories. Boxes and Books is about a young writer wanting to record his life experiences and searching for someone to help him finish his life story. What makes a life? People, experiences, emotions…important and incidental? How do we make sense of our lived experience? How does a writer record his reality?

Written and performed by Linda Tshabalala       

Directed by Tebogo Machaba

Set design by  Tshepo Swafo


Date:                                        Thursday 5 October @ 8.15pm

Venue:                                      Amphitheatre

Duration:                                   60 minutes

Age Restriction:                        16 +



James Cairns Against Humanity is a solo improvised show that uses cards from the card game Cards Against Humanity to invite the audience input. The story could go anywhere and does, there could even be a song or two - if it goes that way? Each performance is a unique, never to be repeated event. Miss it at your peril!

Directed and performed by James Cairns


Date:                            Saturday 30 September @ 6.30pm

Saturday 7 October @ 8.30pm

Venue:                          Amphitheatre

Running Time:               60 minutes

Age Restriction:            none



MAN UP is about life, masculinity and how it is embodied in men today told through the life of Brian Mitchell and his bittersweet success as a South African street workout champion. His life lived primarily in a gym materialises through the rendering of the hilarious characters who have peopled his world, memories and anecdotal stories that invite us to interrogate what makes a man?  He visits his gym late one night where we witness feats of his strength and greatest weaknesses as he searches for answers in a world rapidly leaving him behind, a world where strength is not what it used to be. His life unfolds as memories: sports matches in school, crazy experiences with girls and how his friends and family have shaped him into the athlete and man he is now. But what does it mean to be a 'man' in 2017? Man Up unpacks the social dynamics of the gym culture: where does it fit into normal life and why is it a totally different world?

Produced by Liquid Fusion

Written and performed by Mark Tatham 

Directed by Daniel Geddes

Stage Managed by Devon Welmers


Date:                                        Saturday 30 September @ 8pm

Sunday 1 October @ 2pm

Venue:                                      Downstairs Theatre

Running Time:                           60 minutes

Age Restriction:                        13 +



My Koek is Moeg is a story of Poppie Plaaitjies, a young woman from Khomasdal. She invites us into her world of complex experiences of womanhood. She shares a familiar female narrative of young women grappling with the politics of the female body.

Written by Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja       

Directed by Obett Motaung

Performed by Abby Molz

Date:                            Friday 29 September @ 1.15pm

Sunday 1 October @ 5pm

Venue:                          Amphitheatre

Duration:                       60 minutes

Age Restriction:            16+



Nomvula - A Candle in the Rain is a story about a 9 year old girl who lives with the aunt guilty of killing her mother. She is going through a spiritual awakening and using journey ultimately to avenge her mother's death with the help of her Ancestors. The Rain is her tool of communication with her bloodline, those who have gone but are ever present. 

Directed by Linda wa ka shabangu
Co-directed by Phumza Tshem

Performed by Kgomotso Nkomo

Date:                            Friday 6 October @ 6pm

Sunday 8 October at 4.30pm

Venue:                          Amphitheatre

Duration:                          50 minutes

Age Restriction:               13 PG



Painful Joy is a participatory theatre performance about a waiter at restaurant, whose true self is hidden behind the mask of subservient service to unseeing diners. His own voice struggles to be heard as he is rendered invisible by his role as the “waiter”. Our waiter is waiting for his time, a time when he can be heard, where his life, voice and stories are centre stage. He struggles to control the overwhelming need to be acknowledged and seen beyond the role of smiling, dutiful waiter. The performance is meant to unravel the secret diary of a waiter aspiring to be like those he serves. 

Conceived and performed by Tebogo Radebe

Written and directed Mahlatse Letoka

Music/Sound score Composition by Tebogo Radebe and Mahlatse Letoka


Date:                            Saturday 7 October @ 2.30pm

Sunday 8 October @ 2pm

Venue:                          Nunnery

Duration:                       40 minutes

Age Restriction:            16+

Age Restriction: some swearing


Rob van Vuuren is a comedic phenomenon. He has performed nationally and internationally for twenty years. He has won a slew of awards of over that time including the Comics Choice Breakthrough Act Award as well as over 5 Standard Bank Ovation Awards.

He has two Comedy Central Africa specials to his name and can be seen currently on Famous Last Words on the same channel. He is the guy who schucksed Schuster, he is Twakkie and Van Der Merwe and the person behind many other iconic South African television and film characters. He is in Jhb for one night only at the Wits Theatre to bring you a hilarious hour of his favourite comedy from an illustrious career.


Performed by Rob van Vuuren


Dates:                          Thursday 5 October @ 8pm


Venue:                          Main Theatre


Duration:                       65 minutes


Age Restriction:            15+




A story of Ntombizonke who curses the womb that brought her to this earth. The land of Azania is barren but a prophet foresees that the sacrifice of Ntombizonke‘s virginity can remove this curse. This is a journey of self-discovery, a wrestling of an individual’s identity, an interrogation of culture, values and traditions. Will Ntombizonke go against her culture, disobey her family and disappoint the whole village? A story of courage and hope.


Directed by Paul Noko

Written by Hannah Van Tonder & Paul Noko

Performed by Hannah Van Tonder

Music by Thulisa Phungula

Choreographed by Teresa Phuti Mojela


Date:                            Wednesday 4 October @ 1.15pm

 Saturday 7 October @ 5.30pm

Venue:                          Amphitheatre 4/10

                                    Nunnery 7/10

Duration:                       50 minutes

Age Restriction:                        16+



From the directors of Naledi Theatre Award winning Just Antigone comes Tswalo, a celebration of the art of solo performance. Tswalo is a tale told through poetry and physical storytelling entwined to interrogate the rules that govern life on earth, such as power, creation, politics, connection, and intuition. It begs the question (or theory) of being, becoming and unbecoming. 

Written and performed by Billy Langa    

Directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana

Music/Sound score Composition by John Withers

Lighting design by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana


Date:                            Saturday 30 September @ 3.30pm

                                    Sunday 1 October at 3.30pm

Venue:                          Amphitheatre

Running Time:               45 minutes

Age Restriction:            16+


Ticket Types



Special Purchase Conditions

Online Full Price


R 75

Redeem for printed tickets from Wits Theatre Box Office

Online Discount

Pensioners/Students/Wits Staff

R 65

ID, student and staff cards must be produced when redeeming tickets

Box Office Full Price


R 80


Box Office Discount

Pensioners/Students/Wits Staff

R 70

ID must be produced when redeeming tickets

Block Bookings Students


R 50

10 pax or more

Block Bookings Adults


R 65

10 pax or more




  • Wits Theatre Box office: 011 7171381




Safe undercover parking is available at Senate House and open parking through Station Road Boom Gate after 5pm on week days and all day on weekends. Both entrances are on Jorissen Street.


Wits Theatre has a licenced bar that and chips, chocolates and sweets are on sale.



Venue Name: Wits Theatre
Street Address: Station Road
More News
Unlocking the Growth Potential of the Online Gaming Industry in South Africa: Challenges and Opportunities Unlocking the Growth Potential of the Online Gaming Industry in South Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

In 2018, the global gaming industry consisted of 2.3 billion consumers, who spent nearly US$ 138 billion on games. Although the South African gaming industry is small, it is growing at an exponential rate.

Policy Implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution for the Cultural and Creative Economy Policy Implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution for the Cultural and Creative Economy

Future developments within the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th Industrial Revolution) entails a high level of complexity and uncertainty, particularly in relation to global economics of scale that indirectly have an impact on the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs).

The Mapping Study 2018 The Mapping Study 2018

Every two years the Observatory undertakes an in-depth sector-wide economic study - the Mapping Study. In 2018, we produced a key report that analyses the entire sector, particularly as it relates to its contribution to the SA economy and GDP.

South African Festival Economic Impact Calculator South African Festival Economic Impact Calculator

Summer is upon us and many event organisers are hard at work doing their best to ensure that they deliver the most memorable events.

Trevor Noah nominated for Grammy Award Trevor Noah nominated for Grammy Award

Trevor Noah’s star continues to shine beyond our shores, a confirmation that our cultural and creative industries products can be successfully exported and traded anywhere in the world.

Connect with us