Behind the scenes

Trailer by Black Gosling


In its 3rd year of partnership, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the Market Theatre Lab present a brand new audio experience from Kwasha! Theatre Company…

Made under lockdown restrictions during 2020, and in direct response to pushing the boundaries of how live performers can reach their audiences in the time of Covid-19, the Kwasha! Theatre Company chose to present Boris Vian’s 1959 play as a binaural audio experience for audiences to access from the comfort of their homes.

The binaural experience allows audiences to create the world of the theatre entirely through sound and the vocal delivery of the performers. The audio play was recorded in the Barney Simon Theatre (Market Theatre, Johannesburg) in November 2020, and will be available from February 2021 for audiences to experience in 3 parts / episodes.

Boris Vian’s “The Empire Builders” is an Absurdist tragicomedy based on Vian’s childhood experience of the Nazi occupation, written at a time when French colonialism in African and Asian territories was coming to an end. The play tells the story of a middle-class family who is threatened by an unusual noise forcing the family members to ascend through their apartment building to progressively smaller rooms, leaving behind all the comforts they once enjoyed while maintaining a façade of calm and denial. While the family is constantly on an upward run, their world is increasingly narrowing; floor after floor, members of the family mysteriously leave or vanish. The play addresses themes such as alienation, selfishness, self-deception, pride and stupidity – the incomprehensibility of existence and meaning.  This play effortlessly lends itself to political interpretation and so does South African history which features the absurdity of the human condition at its core.

Other successful production partnerships between IFAS, The Market Theatre Lab and Kwasha! Theatre Company include “The Little Prince” (2018) and “Rhinoceros” (2019).

Cast and Crew

Dintshitile Mashile | Director

Dintshitile Mashile is a graduate of The Market Theatre Laboratory. She is also a graduate of University of Johannesburg in a BA Public Management & Governance (2016) and was part of the Sibikwa Arts Centre Saturday Arts Academy (SAA) in 2017. She has since worked as a producer, actor and vocalist and co-directed the award-winning student production ‘Le Journal’ which made its debut at The National Arts Festival 2019. 

Sboniso Thombeni | Performer

Sboniso Thombeni is a multidisciplinary storyteller at the intersection of physical theatre, digital media and queer advocacy. They started their theatrical training at the National School of the Arts and then went on to Rhodes University to pursue a B.A. degree (cum laude), double majoring in Drama Journalism and Media Studies. At the end of their undergrad, they were the recipient of the Mattie Shuttleworth Prize as the most outstanding dramatic arts student as well as the Andrew W. Mellon postgraduate scholarship in Media and Sociality (2019).

Mosie Mamaregane | Performer

Mosie Mamaregane is a vibrant 23-year-old Limpopo-born performing artist, writer and vocalist who draws inspiration for theatre and the Arts through music and reading. She was part of the top 3 drama finalists in the country for the Nedbank Arts and Culture Trust Scholarship in 2017, and began theatre studies at the Market theatre Laboratory in 2018.  She performed in various productions at the Lab,  most notably ‘Le Journal’ which scooped two awards at The National Arts Festival. 

Wonder Ndlovu | Performer

Wonder Ndlovu is a 21 year old KwaZulu Natal-born performer, theatre maker, director, writer, facilitator and Co-Owner/Director of the Black Dot Theatre Fusion Company.  In 2018, he began his studies at the Market Theatre Laboratory as a full time theatre and performance student, where he was able to work on many productions led by leading theatre makers. Career highlights include performing in ‘Go!’ directed by Maude Sandham and Nicola Pilkington and ‘Babylon Beyond Borders!’ directed by Mwenya Kabwe.

Upile Bongco | Performer

Upile uThixo Bongco is a 23-year-old performer, writer, director, and vocal artist who graduated with her Honours in Drama in 2018 and her BA in Drama and Psychology in 2017 at Rhodes University. She has performed in many productions, including the hit-musical ‘Hairspray’ as well as many original award-winning works at the National Arts Festival. Upile has a growing interest in the mental and psychological health of men of colour and wishes to address such issues through performance and drama therapy.

 Joël Leonard | Performer

Joël Leonard is an emerging performance artist, choreographer, writer, and performer based in Jozi, the City of Gold. He has been studying and practicing artist inside (and sometimes outside) the theatre for four years, with a journey beginning at the Wits School of Arts in 2015, where he earned his Honours Degree, triple majoring in Physical Theatre, Writing and Performance in 2019. Here, he received the Richard Haines Prize. In March 2019, he found his way to The Market Laboratory under the Tsammu Writer’s Programme. Joël’s work is centred in the blending of styles, and genres.

Yogin Sullaphen | Sound Designer

 Yogin Sullaphen is a musician in South Africa. He studied music at the University of the Witwatersrand and his versatility expands to the field of teaching, performance, composition, and production of music. He composes for theatre and performance art and is part of bands and music projects at home and abroad, recently composing for The Irritierte Stadt Festival in Stuttgart, Germany. Yogin was nominated for 2 Naledi Theatre Awards for ‘Jungfrau’ and ‘Strange Land’ directed by Jade Bowers. He is currently experimenting with live looping within the context of theatre and performance art as well as in a musical duo with Annalyzer called uKhoiKhoi. 

Mpho Malesa & Karina Lemmer | Dialogue Coach

 Mpho Malesa is a graduate from TUT (Tshwane University of Technology). He is a writer, director, field worker and voice over artist who gas been part of multiple film and theatre productions in his short career.  

Karina holds a PhD, which examines multilingual embodied acting in the South African context. She is a senior lecturer at the TUT Department of Performing Arts where she specializes in voice and acting. Karina is also an editor for IDEA (accent data base for actors internationally) and a certified Lessac body-voice practitioner who has coached several productions and films.


The Market Theatre Laboratory was launched in 1989 as a project of the Market Theatre in response to the needs of the community theatre sector for high quality training, and to provide a seedbed for the creation of new South African plays. Three decades later, the Lab stands strong and has built on its solid reputation as a centre for artistic excellence with many of its graduates working in the industry as actors, writers, directors and theatre-makers. The Market Lab continues to create and embody an inspiring, safe environment, so that students, theatre practitioners, collaborators and audiences can flourish and grow through learning, exchange, experimentation, research and making; with an emphasis on creating space for subaltern experiences, voices and identities. 

As the cultural agency of the Embassy of France in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) is the operator of the cultural action of France abroad, one of 96 institutes in the world. IFAS organises and supports artistic events in venues and festivals throughout the country. It has strong relationships with various South African partners through artistic projects. IFAS is a platform for cooperation, encouraging cultural diversity and exchanges between South Africa, France and the rest of the African continent. From performing arts to the visual arts, from literature to gastronomy, all cultural fields are honoured. www.ifas.org.za

With a 41-year history and over 300 awards the Market Theatre Foundation is celebratory of its past, anchored to the present and visionary about its future. The Market Theatre Foundation remains at the forefront of producing and presenting cutting edge work that has an authentic African artistic voice and which is inclusive of the rich tapestry of African diversity. www.themarkettheatre.co.za 

KWASHA! the 3rd aims to create and devise cutting edge work that challenges the different perspectives of narrative in our society on a level of theatre work and thematic. By committing to crash through the glass ceiling, the company members aim to create a broader interest and access to the arts and its spaces. The Kwasha! Theatre Company, a collaborative project between the Market Theatre Laboratory and The Windybrow Arts Centre, was launched in 2018. Each year, six of South Africa’s most exciting emerging theatre makers are identified as members of the company and work together to create an exciting programme of new and dynamic theatre pieces.

The Windybrow Arts Centre is the 4th of the Market Theatre Foundation’s Arts divisions, framing itself as a space for thought leadership, Literacy and Pan African Expression. Nestled in the small cultural Hub of New Doornfontein, the Heritage house stands out from between the modern city buildings, boasting Victorian architecture from a by-gone era. The old lady, built in 1896, is one of one the oldest and treasured of the Johannesburg Heritage houses, under the department of the National Department of Sports Arts and Culture.

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