Revolutionary Theatre: Ariane Mnouchkine’s ‘1789’ At Sibikwa Arts Centre

Arts and Creative Industries

A Theatrical Masterpiece Celebrating Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

Experience the Revolutionary Power of “1789″

Join us at Sibikwa Arts Centre from 11 – 23 July for an extraordinary journey into the heart of revolution. Immerse yourself in “1789,” the world-renowned play originally brought to life by Ariane Mnouchkine and Théâtre du Soleil. Witness the gripping tale of resilience and rebellion as we transport you to the tumultuous streets of Paris during the French Revolution.

Captivating Performances, Unforgettable Storytelling

Prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking performances and powerful storytelling of “1789” Co-directed by veteran directors (and founders of the Sibikwa Arts Centre) Phyllis Klotz and Smal Ndaba, this theatrical masterpiece, supported by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the French Institute in Paris, and the City of Paris, promises to leave audiences spellbound.

This is not a South African adaptation of a French play”, says co-director Phyllis Klotz. “We’ve chosen to allow the themes of the piece to speak for themselves while staying true to the original work of commentary and satire developed by Ariane Mnouchkine and the Théâtre du Soleil all those years ago. We have no doubt that the audience will feel the echoes of resonance ripple in another revolution.”

Klotz and Ndaba bring their artistic vision and expertise to faithfully represent the original work’s themes of commentary and satire developed by Ariane Mnouchkine and Théâtre du Soleil, creating a truly immersive promenade theatre experience*.

* Promenade theatre is a unique form of theatrical performance where the audience actively participates in the performance by exploring the space rather than being confined to their seats”.

An Ensemble of Talent

“1789” brings together an extraordinary ensemble cast and crew. Renowned opera stars Lehlongonolo ‘Bapi’ Musa and Bongiwe Musa lead the musical direction, while award-winning theatre practitioner Toni Morkel serves as the production’s movement coach. Designer Wilhelm Disbergen recreates the vibrant streets and people of Paris in 1789, enveloping the audience in the rich atmosphere of the era.

A Fusion of Music, Physicality, and Creativity

Prepare to be moved by the mesmerising fusion of music, physicality, and storytelling in “1789.” The talented cast, including Joel Zuma, Mlindeli Zondi, Nomsa Mbatha, Khanyisile Ngwabe, Siphiwe Nkabinde, Snenhlanhla Mgeyi, Masiza Mbali, and Zevangeli Mamppofu promises to deliver unforgettable performances that will stir your emotions and leave you in awe.

An Unforgettable Collaboration

Witness the coming together of Théâtre du Soleil and South African theatre as the Sibikwa Inclusive Creative Arts Programme students join the cast in chorus. Through a two-week workshop facilitated by Théâtre du Soleil, these talented individuals will learn from the avant-garde stage ensemble and contribute their unique creativity to this groundbreaking collaboration.

Book Your Tickets Now

Don’t miss your chance to be part of this historic theatrical event. Join us at Sibikwa Arts Centre and embark on a journey that explores the timeless struggle for freedom and equality. Book your tickets now for this limited season from July 11th to July 23rd and be prepared to question the power of democracy. This is an unforgettable experience you won’t want to miss!

Vive la révolution!

 About the Contributors

Sibikwa Arts Centre: 
Sibikwa is an award-winning multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence in South Africa, established in 1988 by renowned playwrights, directors, arts educators and stalwarts, Small Ndaba and Phyllis Klotz. Based in the City of Ekurhuleni, Sibikwa’s vision is of transformed, vibrant and connected communities with access to arts and culture. As a hub that fosters artistic excellence, community connectedness and social transformation, Sibikwa’s purpose includes offering quality arts education and accredited training, providing access for people to develop their talents and contribute to the industry and related economies, and advancing arts and culture as contributions to community, civic and social change.  A well-resourced arts centre with state-of-the-art facilities and dedicated staff capable of delivering on the various projects it undertakes, Sibikwa Arts Centre is distinguished as a centre that symbolises creativity, inclusivity, community and transformation.

Théâtre du Soleil :
Théâtre du Soleil (“The Theater of the Sun”) is a French avant-garde stage ensemble founded almost 60 years ago by Ariane Mnouchkine and her peers. Théâtre du Soleil’s shows embrace all art forms, allowing productions of a high artistic quality, working in depth on the set design, costumes, masks, lights, live music and stage writing. Each production requires daily rehearsals, extensive research and preparations, during which the members of the company work, eat and think together.
The notion of collective, sharing and equality are at the heart of the philosophy of Théâtre du Soleil, where all employees – 70 people, including Ariane – are paid a single salary, and where everyone is involved in the daily life and upkeep of the place. The practice of Théâtre du Soleil is linked not only to a strong aesthetic but even more to a deep social commitment. Ariane’s guiding principle is to remain faithful to certain ideas in which she believes deeply: freedom of the artist, support for the arts, denunciation of state crimes and immigration rights.
Within the synergies of the collective creation of Théâtre du Soleil, the decompartmentalization takes place spontaneously between the disciplines – scenography, art direction, technique ,acting, costumes etc. Théâtre du Soleil has become a living, breathing and collective writing laboratory.
The theatre company has been reinterpreting classics as well as creating plays from devising and improvisation, mostly working closely with writer Hélène Cixous. Théâtre du Soleil is often inspired by non-western theatre techniques and has built close relationships with Eastern cultures (India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Afghanistan etc.) over the years.
Théâtre du Soleil brings a particular attention to how History is told and the desire to illuminate the past in order to have a better understanding of the present. It explores artistic forms capable of denouncing and resisting the state of the world. After all these years, Théâtre du Soleil has become an iconic artistic collective in France and abroad, known as a lasting and flamboyant utopia.

The French Institute of South Africa (IFAS): 
Attached to the Embassy of France in South Africa, Lesotho and Malawi, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) strives to strengthen the bond between France and South Africa by supporting innovative cultural, audio-visual, academic, educative and linguistic initiatives.
Throughout the year, the Institute supports artistic, cultural and festival events and programmes all over the country and offers a platform for cooperation in these areas. Another objective is to encourage cultural diversity and creative exchanges between South Africa, France and the rest of the African continent.
Creative team: 

Phyllis Klotz & Smal Ndaba: 
Phyllis Klotz and Smal Ndaba, the co-founders of Sibikwa Arts Centre, have been involved in development theatre and arts education for many years, recognized as experts in the development of community arts centres. Theatre stalwarts, they have created seminal issue-based productions that reflect their signature style, steeped in South African history and indigenous arts, many of which have toured the country and abroad. They are the recipients of several awards for their contribution to South African theatre and communities, including Phyllis’ Naledi Lifetime Achievement and Smal’s Service Excellence Award presented by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation.

Wilhelm Disbergen: 

Wilhelm Disbergen is a prolific theatre designer. After graduating from the University of the
Witwatersrand, he moved to London, where he worked in major design studios and at The
National Theatre. A highlight of his stay in London was to be the associate designer for
Metropolis Kabarett (directed by Henry Goodman) at The National Theatre.

He regularly works in all major theatres in South Africa and is a multiple winner at the annual Naledi Theatre Awards. In 2018, he added a Fleur du Cap award for lighting design. For theatre, at the State Theatre, his collaboration with artistic director Aubrey Sekhabi started with Silent Voice, subsequently seen on a national tour, at the World Festival of Black Arts, in Dakar, Senegal, and the Edinburgh Festival. This was followed by Sekhabi’s three seminal freedom plays – Mantolo: The Tenth Step, Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, and The Rivonia Trial. Subsequently he designed Sekhabi’s Hungry (a co-production with the SchauSpielHaus Hamburg), the epoch making Marikana – The Musical, and Freedom: The Musical.

Toni Morkel: 
Veteran theatre maker, performer and director, Toni Morkel, joins Sibikwa as Physical Director on 1789. Toni’s most recent directorial work includes the acclaimed and award-winning FIREFLY; the Naledi nominated BALLOONACY for the National Children’s Theatre; and THE AGENTS for Robaby Productions.
1789 is Toni’s first collaboration with SIBIKWA.

Lehlogonolo ‘Bapi’ Musa and Bongiwe Musa)
Choir Director and Opera star, Lehlogonolo ‘Bapi’ Musa and Bongiwe Musa, joined forces to found *B MAD expressions after several years of successful solo careers.

Both classically trained, their individual careers have taken them around the globe performing in a range of operas and South African concerts.

Together, they continue to train, perform and promote opera music in schools. They have built a chorus for the company with the aim of creating work for opera students and graduates.


Ecole Nomade is a transmission programme designed by Théâtre du Soleil. The following members of the company will be present at Sibikwa Arts Centre:
Duccio Bellugi
Eve Doe Bruce
Ariane Oliveira de Souza
Sebastian brottet-Michel
Astrid Renoux
Dominique Jambert
Omid Mahmood Shah

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