About Us

About Joburg Theatre


What is Joburg Theatre and who operates it?

Johannesburg’s Civic Theatre was built by the then city council in 1962, creating a high-profile landmark on the top of the Braamfontein hill. The building was given a magnificent face-lift in the late ’80s, turning it into one of the most technically proficient theatres in the southern hemisphere.

In the year 2000 – when theatres across the country were considered to be both creatively and financially moribund – the city council decided to corporatise the operating company of theatre, which is now a Municipal Entity of the City of Joburg.

The Johannesburg Civic Theatre (Pty) Ltd was given a Board of Directors, chaired by Cas Coovadia, Managing Director of The Banking Association of South Africa – and Bernard Jay, veteran UK born theatre producer and administrator who had relocated to South Africa in 1993, was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the company.

Dr Mongane Wally Serote, eminent poet and writer, took over as chairman of the Board of Directors in April 2012. In July 2013 Xoliswa Nduneni Ngema, an experienced South African Theatre practitioner, was appointed as Chief Executive Officer.

Now in its 16th year as the operating company, “the Civic” – which morphed into the more street-wise and accessible Joburg Theatre in 2009 – has become one of the acknowledged success stories of Joburg City’s corporatisation policy. The complex’ largest auditorium, re-named The Nelson Mandela Theatre, regularly sees over 75% of capacity audiences and remains open a minimum of fifty weeks in each year.

In the past decade, The Mandela at Joburg Theatre has hosted many hit shows, including William Kentridge’s acclaimed interpretation of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE, the West End and Broadway musicals WE WILL ROCK YOU, CHICAGO, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE and SPAMALOT and top-of-the-line global touring shows, such as LE GRAND CIRQUE, LORD OF THE DANCE and BRAZOUKA.

Joburg Theatre’s annual festive season pantomime productions, written and directed by Janice Honeyman, have become the most popular highlight of South Africa’s theatrical calendar.

Joburg Theatre is also permanent home to Joburg Ballet, Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s Peoples Theatre Company – performing throughout the year to children between the ages of 3 and 13 – and one of the country’s most respected community development projects in the arts, the tiny ‘black-box’ theatre known as space.com.

History of the theatre from 1962 to 2007

For a detailed history of our theatre, please visit www.joburgtheatreptyltd.co.za.

Joburg Theatre (SOC) Ltd – a municipal entity of the City of Joburg

The Joburg Theatre complex is owned by the City of Joburg: visit www.joburg.org.za.

The theatre’s operating company, Joburg Theatre (SOC) Ltd, is a Municipal Entity of the City of Joburg.
The city’s Community Development sector retains political oversight of the operations of Joburg Theatre, Soweto Theatre and The Roodepoort City Theatre.

To read and/or download the company’s most recent Mid-Year Report and Annual Report, please visit www.joburgtheatreptyltd.co.za.

The Board of Directors

Mongane Wally Serote was born in Sophiatown, north of Johannesburg, in 1944. He attended school in Alexandra. The political conditions of the time led him to develop an interest in the Black Consciousness (BC) philosophy and the anti-apartheid struggles of the day. Upon leaving school, Serote began working as a journalist. More widely known as “Wally”, Serote is generally regarded as one of South Africa’s pre-eminent poets and writers. He is renowned as one of the Soweto poets who embodied the literary revival of black voices in the 1970s. Serote’s poems projected a stark and realistic picture of the apartheid regime. His resistance to the unjust regime extended outside of poetry through active involvement in political resistance by joining the African National Congress (ANC).

In 1969, Serote was arrested and detained without trial in accordance with the regime’s Terrorism Act. During his entire incarceration, he was kept in solitary confinement.

In 1973, after having published his first anthology of poems called Yakhal’nkomo the year before, Serote won the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize. The following year, he was granted a Fulbright Scholarship and travelled to Columbia University to complete a master’s degree in Fine Arts. His poems, particularly those from his first two anthologies, have been lauded as pivotal to the rise of the BC movement in South Africa.

After Serote returned from his studies in the United States of America in 1979, he chose to go into self-imposed exile in Botswana. Once in that country, Serote continued his resistance against apartheid, largely through the work he did by joining the Medu Arts Ensemble. In 1986, Serote relocated to London where he began working for the ANC’s Department of Arts and Culture. Serote eventually returned to South Africa in 1990, shortly after the ANC was unbanned. In 1994, he served as a chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee for Arts and Culture.

Mongane Wally Serote spent his lifetime expressing the injustices and harsh realities of life for black people under apartheid. He was an active member of the Liberation Army, Umkhonto We Sizwe. His work has inspired, and continues to inspire generations of youth throughout South Africa, Africa and the world. He has been awarded several National and International awards, including the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (1993); the Pablo Neruda award from the Chilean government (2004) and the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver (South Africa). His contribution to the South African literary arena has been invaluable. His thought-provoking poetry not only expressed the effects that oppression had on South Africans, but it also stands as a timeless body of work that marks an important period in South Africa’s history.


Lorraine Malebo worked for the Namibian Solidarity Committee, which was as established by the then UDF. She later joined government as the Municipal Manager for a District municipality; Deputy Director for Department of Public Works as a Programme Manager for Community Based Projects managing 3 provinces: Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Free State; and Assistant Director Implementing Rapid Land Programme for the Gauteng Dept of Development Planning and Housing. She is currently contracted with the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, implementing a turnaround strategy for the Gauteng Traffic Training College, Pretoria.


Ishmael holds a BA Degree (University of the North/Limpopo) and Management Advancement Programme ( Wits Business School). He is a freelance professional community organiser, conflict and disputes resolution practitioner, social entrepreneur and activist, development and scenarios-based strategic conversations facilitator. He serves and has served and chaired numerous company boards and trusts.


Mavuso Shabalala has 18 years operational and strategic level experience as a Human Resource Practitioner, which was obtained mainly in the Financial Services and Public Sector, including Liberty Life and Stanbic Africa, and the International NGO sector, for Oxfam Great Britain and Oxfam International. He has consulted for the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, Rustenburg Local Municipal Municipality and the City of Joburg and Special Investigating Unit, which has provided him an appreciation of some of the challenges faced by public sector entities. He has served for over 5 years on the Board of Directors of the City of Joburg’s Roodepoort City Theatre, where he also served as Chairperson of Board Committee on Human Resources and was a member of the Audit Committee.


Mabutho has over 30 years experience in all forms of public speaking and performing arts. He is aptly described as a man for all seasons. He has a long history of stage acting and is a well-known stand-up comedian. Mabutho has played roles in various television films, series, talk shows and educational programmes, as well as various local and international films. He is President of the Creative Workers Union of South Africa.


Todd is a well-known South African actor, singer, dancer, producer and choreographer. Her career in musical theatre, both in her home country and abroad, spans nearly 3 decades. She has run dance workshops in disadvantageed communities and townships since 1996. Todd is currently the director and organisor of a school for professional dancing and singing training.