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Cradle of Creativity Festival

Photos courtesy of Ihsaan Haffejee


I am the current curator of ASSITEJ South Africa's Cradle of Creativity festival. The festival began in 2017 when ASSITEJ South Africa hosted the ASSITEJ International 19th World Congress, Conference and Festival in Cape Town. This event stretched across three different theatre venues, and had four cultural hubs. It was a triumph that featured 63 productions, 29 of them South African, 11 with African involvement, and the participation of 464 artists. It created numerous opportunities for South African artists and audiences. It was here that the idea for a biennial roving theatre festival was born. Jaqueline Dommisse served as the Festival Curator for 2017 and 2019.

I curated the 2023 festival which took place from 20-27 August under the theme 'Stories that Move Us'. The festival took place at the Market Theatre, Windybrow Arts Centre, Sibikwa Arts Centre, National Children’s Theatre and other venues across Gauteng. A total of 27 (18 local and 9 international) productions were staged in 86 separate performances across 11 different spaces in 4 venues, alongside an impressive and engaging conference, workshop and seminar schedule. Approximately 251 artists performed across the festival, reaching over 8800 audiences of children, young people, their families and artists working in the field, as well as the general public.

Artistically the foundation of Cradle of Creativity has been about the alchemy that exists when different cultures and forms collide. We are currently living in a world where movement has become increasingly difficult. The pandemic was a shared moment of precarity; the feeling that life can change at any moment. In recent years this has been paired with rising political instability, devastating natural disasters, and the deterioration of public services across the world. In the midst of these crises are children and young people who are also trying to make sense of the world that they find themselves in. 

In thinking about this programme I wanted to return to story as a vehicle. It is the stories presented at the festival that will move children out of their schools and neighbourhoods, and into the theatre. It is story that has allowed storytellers to traverse physical border. In other instances stories transport us into new worlds. The festival is a testament to all the ways in which stories travel and how this compels us to think differently about the world around us.


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