Let’s talk production: Twijnstra and Durden tackle theatre in new book

By Carol Kagezi

Entering the theatre industry is seemingly difficult, especially in South Africa. In their first book, Theatre Directing in South Africa, Durban based Dutch theatre director Roel Twijnstra and theatre specialist Emma Durden offer practical steps one can take when embarking on such a journey. Based on the popularity of this book, the pair partner up again to co-author Theatre Production in South Africa.

The book stems from a series of workshops the pair have conducted with Drama departments, festivals, theatre groups and community groups in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN). “It contains interviews with producers, stage managers and project managers,” Twijnstra says. The book gives an overview of the theatre production industry in South Africa in addition to highlighting new production models for young upcoming producers with entrepreneurial skills. Durden and Twijnstra emphasise the need to find opportunities and exploit them.

Among those in attendance was Bhekani Shabalala, an independent producer of theatre who is interviewed in the book. He shared his journey with the crowd. “I had to learn how to create and find an audience,” he says, “I had to learn how to think outside the box and advertise by word of mouth.” Shabalala and his team of three others were tasked with recreating and reviving a theatre culture in Umlazi, KZN. He is currently the manager of Thambo Theatre Productions.

The cost of compiling this book have been subsidised by funders such as the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa (ANFASA) and Twist Projects (sponsored by the National Lotteries Commission). Durden says because of this funding they are able to sell it for R100. She also warns against relying on “magic money” to make theatre. “You have to develop relationships with people and think of ways of developing enough income,” she adds.

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Twijnstra and Durden’s first book, Theatre Directing in South Africa.

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