Mandla Mbothwe

Senior Lecturer

Mandla Mbothwe  is a Founder and Artistic Director at Mud and Fire Parables; Lecturer and Researcher at University of Cape Town, Co-Artistic director at Magnet Theatre, co-Artistic director at Mbothwe and Doni Collectives.

He completed his Masters Degree in Theatre and Performance with distinctions with University of Cape Town. He also successfully obtained his Honors Degree in Theatre and Performance, Diploma in Theatre and Performance both through the University of Cape Town after completing his Grade 12.

In recent years he served as Creative Manager of ARTSCAPE Theatre Centre and has served various institutions including the Steve Biko Foundation’s artistic director. He presented his work in festivals across the world including infecting the City (Cape Town), Out of the Box (Cape Town), National Arts Festival and other international festivals.

He is one of the acclaimed South African theatre makers and award winner. He is a playwright, researcher, director, art teacher and theatre practitioner for the past twenty-one years. Over the years he has created and presented theatre productions of high quality, which were staged in South Africa and abroad. He successfully heads various institutions and served others as a lecturer, curator and board member. 

The multi award winner directed beautiful and remarkable work that including Isivuno sa maphupha (Harvesting of dreams), Ingcwaba le ndoda lise cankwedlela (The grave of the man is next to the road), Umyenzo we zandi (Eden of sounds), Inxeba lo mphilisi (The wound of a healer), Voices of Women with Abelusi of Steve Biko Centre, Ukushona ko Mendi productions, Biko’s QuestUkuphuthelwa (Insomnia) co-directed by House of Africa with Lulamile Nikani, Nzulu ye’mfihlakalo (Sacred of sacreds), Talking Souls commissioned by British Council and Artscape Theatre,  Awethu-Kraal of Dreams, Giant in Him with Lulamile Nikani, Thina so babini Us together and also so co-directed Ukhozi olumaphikoEzethu and 27 Windows/4 doors & 2 tapsIyazika, In His QuestNguvuYaMbenguG7-OkweBokwe, co Directed Ityala lamaweleSabmnye noMendiSidesibebany no SS Mendi, 1976 spirits, Biko Rising and Oratorio of the forgotten youth.

He conceptualized and curated multiple commissioned international festival, awards, conferences and 

He has won multiple awards such as Handspring Puppetry Award for Best Visual Theatre (2010), Fleur du Cap Award with Mark Fleishman and Jennie Reznek for Innovation in Theatre (2010), Fleur du Cap Award for Innovation in Theatre (2013) and Eastern Cape Arts & Culture Award for Outstanding Contribution in Drama (2013).


Founder and Artistic Director at Mud and Fire Parables;

Lecturer and Researcher at University of Cape Town,

Co-Artistic director at Magnet Theatre,

Co-Artistic director at Mbothwe and Doni Collectives.


2006:  Master’s Degree:  Theatre and Performance:  University of Cape Town (distinction)

2004:  Honours Degree:  Theatre and Performance:  University of Cape Town

1996:  Diploma:  Theatre and Performance:  University of Cape Town

1992:  Matric / Grade 12:  Mandela High School


2014 to 2016: Creative Manager, Artscape Theatre Centre. Cape Town

2011 to 2013: Artistic Director for The Steve Biko Foundation/Centre Performing Arts. King Williamstown

2003 to 2010: Lecturer and Researcher Drama Department University of Cape Town

2002 – 2006 (4-years): Conceiver and Artistic Coordinator Sithi@Baxter Theatre and drama for teenagers at Baxter Theatre

2004 – to 2011: Co- artistic Director Magnet Theatre Educational Trust

2002-2007Co-ordinator for Magnet Theatre community drama groups intervention in the Western Cape Province Magnet Theatre Educational Trust

2003-2006Facilitator of directors-workshop for Western Cape High school teachers-

2000 to date: Founder and Director Garage Theatre Productions (now known as) Mud&Fire Parable

Commissioned, Conceptualised, Curated and Directed Awards and Festivals

2011 - Conceptualised and curated Steve Biko Foundation Easter Festival 4years

2014 - Commissions to conceptualise and chief curate 40year of Fleur di cap Awards

2014 - Conceptualised and curated Artscape new voices program for three years

2015 - Conceptualised and curated Spiritual festival for three years

2015 - Commissioned to conceptualised and curated British Council Higher Learning Global Conference

2017 - Commissioned to Conceptualised and Curate Assitej World Congress Africa Day

2017 - Commissioned IsiXhosa have adapted, translated and original written some text for the Yellow bone film, for the Stillborn movie

2018 - Commissions to conceptualise and chief curate the Western Cape Arts, Sorts and Cultural Affairs annual awards

2018 - Conceptual, directed, co-written text for In His Quest

2018 - Conceptual, directed, co-written Biko Rising


2002 - Theatre for community development and social change in Berlin, Germany

1997 - UCT sexual harassment counselling course

1997 - UCT HIV & aids educator course

1993 - New Africa Theatre Association acting and theatre diploma

1992 - Leadership course University of Western Cape

1992 - Peace vision course

1988 - Photography and pencil drawing Community Arts Project (CAP)


2017 - Directed Tupo Kama Nipo (we are if I am) a theatrical production with SADE youth living in South Africa by Theatre Arts Admin.

2017 - Ndabamnye noSS Mendi at Assitej 19th World Congress and Performing Arts

2017 - Africa Day-Conceptualized and Curated Assitej 19th World Congress and Performing Arts,

2017 - Nguvu ya Mbegu Created and Directed with UCT students, a collective memory production based on Bullhoek massacre of 1936

2017 - G7-Okwe Bokhwe, created a devised production with Magnet Theatre Trainees, a collective memory production based of 1986 Gugulethu massacre

2016 - Directed and set designed Robben Island Bible (performed at Artscape Arena and later created a site-specific performance they started in the boat and went through various sites in Robben Island 

2016 - May chosen to partake in a world theatre and performance specialist conference in German.

2016 - Conceptualised, set designed and Directed Oratorio of the Forgotten Youth which includes Thembi Mtshali, Mandla Mlangeni, Bo Peterson, Koleka Putuma for commemoration of 40yrs of June 16. 

2016 - Conceptualised, set designed and directed 1976Spirits a mass dance and physical interpretation of the youth courage and resilience of 1976

2015 - curated 13 companies of multiple arts decline for infecting the City public arts International festival,

2014/15/16 - Conceptualised and Curated Artscape Easter Spiritual Arts Festival 2015, Directed a dance musical Kugqityiwe/Intando. It’s done/the will’

2015 - external examining for Rhodes University and University of Cape Town

2015/16 - Co-directed Ityala lamawele

2014 - Restaged and set designed Biko’s quest for Artscape Heritage Festival, which I conceptualised and curated, Biko’s Quest toured Netherlands and UK for 6 weeks 

2014 - Delivered a paper on South African ‘s 20years of democracy theatre and performance in Glasgow’ Scotland.

2014 - Curated ‘I am not the other” for Artscape and British Council South Africa international disability day. 

2014 - Directed “Ways of Being Free”, curated site-specific Africa Day and Freedom Day for Artscape,

2013/14 - Restaged and set designed “Ukutshona ko Mendi…did we dance” for the Market Theatre and for Soweto Theatre.

2013 - Conceptualised, created with Rhodes University students “Ukuphuthelwa…Insomnia”, also gave series of lecturers

2013 - Curated Steve Biko Centre Ginsberg annual Easter festival.  “Resurrecting Village Spirit” a five-day site-specific-live installation- processional performance-with more than 350 performers with more than 50 sites.

2013 - Curated, and Coordinated performing arts in the President Jacob Zuma’s official opening of the Steve Biko Centre.

2013 Created and Directed “Nzulu ye Mfihlakalosacred of sacreds” and “Talking Souls” commissioned by British Council and Artscape an international collaboration.

2013 Directed and set designed “Awethu…Kraal of Dreams” a musical multicultural production collaboration of the Steve Biko Centre and Artscape with 40 performers of various arts discipline

2013 - Directed a restaging and set designer of Biko’s Quest for Grahamstown National Arts Festival Main program.

2013 - Reconceptualising Giant in Him and Nzulu yeMfihlakalo stage production for a seasonal restaging in commemoration of heritage month and Biko month 2013/

2012 - Created and directed ‘Voices of Women’ that toured Buffalo City Metro schools and community hall and performed to more than 6500 audiences with in month of August.

2012 - Directed Ukutshona koMendi 

2012 - Presented a paper on building bridges and defeating distances for a weekend artist conference East London Eastern Cape The Annual Steve Biko Centre Ginsberg Easter Festival” Resurrecting the village spirit” with 350 performers, in 37 sites a two-day event.

2012 - Directed and set designed “Biko’s Quest, Conceptualised, created and directed a collaboration of Abelusi and Remix Dance Company for Infecting the City Uvuko…Resurrection” a public art performance

2011 - Conceptualised and directed “Resurrecting Village Spirit” a two-day, site-specific-live installation- processional performance-with more than 350 performers and more that 30 sites.

2011 - Curated Market Place of Expressions- collaboration with Amatole museum and Amatole Craft Hub.

Between 2000 to 2010

2010 - Co-directed Ukhozi Olumaphiko (eagle with wings) 2010

2010 - Co-directed Ezethu (of ours) and 27 windows, 4doors and 2 taps for Out the Box 2010 Festival.   

2010 - Co –directed Inxeba Lomphilisi (the wound of a healer)

2009 - Directed Bafana Republic 3 penalty Shootout

2008 - Directed Isivuno Sama Phupha (harvesting of dreams) Performed on the Spier Infecting the City festival.

2008 - Directed the highly acclaimed Ingcwaba lendoda lise cankwe ndlela – (the grave of the man is next to the road

2008 - Directed Umyezo wezandi (Eden of sounds)

2006 - Directed the Revival of the Spirit of Ubuntu in the face of HIV and AIDS

2006 - Co-directed Kusalawula yena with Thoko Ntshinga

2006 - Directed Steps from the heart Commissioned by Woolworths.

2006 - Directed Diamond out of Rubbish Performed at Artscape main theatre.

2005 - Co-directed Kusalawula yena with Thoko Ntshinga.

2005 - Directed an HIV/AIDS play for Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).

2003 - Directed Love, Crime and Johannesburg Performed at UCT by Junction Avenue Theatre Company.

2002 - Directed Not a Prison Performed at Baxter Theatre Sanlam Studio and later in streets, parks, taxi ranks and community halls and schools in the Western Cape communities.

2002 - Directed Racial cake For the South African Nylons Spinners (Industrial theatre), performed in canteens.

2002-2004 - Directed Beyond Silence A project for unemployed women from Delft township.  Production performed at Artscape Main Theatre at Women’s Festivals, UCT Rehearsal Studio, UCT Centre for African studies, UCT Intimate Theatre and around the communities in the Western Cape.

2001 - Directed 9437 to Stadt Performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and the Cape Town One City Festival.​​​​​

2001 - Directed ‘Skoon Maak’ For the International Development Trust(IDT), and it was performed in streets, taxi ranks, open space, community halls and schools Boland areas, and around the Western Cape.

2001 - Directed 76 Spirits talking Performed at International Education Conference in Port Elizabeth and at Cape Town One City Festival.



  • Ndabamnye noSS Mendi
  • coIyazika
  • Sabamnye no SS Mendi
  • coGugulethu 7
  • coBiko Rising,
  • Side sibeBamnye no Mendi a Professional Pictorial and Film Exhibited Works from SS Mendi productions
  • coNguvu ya Mbengu
  • coG7: Okwe Bokhwe


  • Nzulu ye Mfihlakalo…sacred of sacred”
  • Talking Souls
  • Awethu…Kraal of Dreams
  • Biko’s Quest


  • Giant in Him


  • Voices of Women’


  • 27 windows, 4 Doors, and 2 taps (with the cast)
  • Inxeba Lomphilisi- (with the cast)


  • Umyezo wezandi


  • Isivuno Sama Phupha - (with the cast)


  • Steps from the heart


  • Facing it together


  • Not A prison


  • Co-written Beyond Silence with cast


  • Skoon Maak’ for International Development Trust.
  • Racial cake for South African Nylons Spinners
  • 9437 to Stadt

On Researched and Teaching based productions and projects

2017 -2018

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi at Puku International Story Telling Festival in Grahamstown.

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi at UCT Centre for African Studies Conference and festival title Abantu beMendi in commemoration of its Centenary, during this time I have created 3 short films in collaboration with Sanjin Muftic as a film maker, collaborated with Rob Keith as a still photographer, with Leigh Bishop as Costume designer and Nick Mayer as set designer, this presentation was followed by a talk on presented creative interpretation of SS Mendi and the importance of memory and for it to be remembered.

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi at Infecting the City International Festival

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi as part of Iyazika a UCT Theatre Production -researched and devised as part of the UCT drama department ‘s commemoration of SS Mendi ‘s centennial. The projects were the collaboration with the UCT MA students in relation to their studies. SS Mendi centennial. Worked with MA students, Warona Seane, Owen Manamela Mogane which was presented at UCT Arena Theatre.

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi -A full scale site-specific processional, interdisciplinary of SS Mendi Sabamnye no SS Mendi as part of the main program Grahamstown National Art Festival 2017

Devised and Created Gugulethu 7 Community site specific presentation based on the Magnet Theatre ‘s Community Memory Project

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi in collaboration with the Eastern Cape Artist and was performed as part of the Ntinga Ntaba Kandoda Heritage Festival 2017 at Intaba kaNdoda Heritage site.

Ndabamnye noSS Mendi in collaboration with Wandisile Kasibe of Iziko Museum in his “investigation of colonial crimes” project

Directed Biko Rising, and core wrote with Rudolph Shaw in collaboration with American Caribbean Repertoire Theatre Company of New York

UCT- Hiddingh Campus Re-Naming Symposium

Curated a site-specific processional Interdisciplinary connecting the most popular V & A Waterfront Museums working Ndabamnye no SS Mendi characters.

Ndabamnye no SS Mendi as part of the Port Elizabeth Bayworld Museum launch of the SS Mendi exhibition

Professional Exhibited Pictorial Narrative of Contemporary and Metaphorical interpretation of SS Mendi at Young Blood


2017 - Awarded a United States Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural affairs ‘s International Visitor Leadership Program

2012/13 - Won Eastern Cape performing arts award for the outstanding contribution in Drama in Eastern Cape.

2012 - Won Fleur du Cap award for Innovation in Theatre and performance

2010 - Won the Fleur de cap award for most innovative and contributing Theatre Company in the country, together with Mark Fleishman, Jennie Reznek-under Magnet Theatre Educational Trust.

2010 - Won a shared Hand Spring award with Mwenya Kabwe for the best Site Specific and visual production in Out the Box Festival 2010 for 27 windows, 4 doors and 2 taps

2009 - Brent Meersman noted Mandla as one of the most underappreciated Directors in South Africa (Mail and Guardian, December 2009).

2002 - Won Best director award Stop Crime Festival Artscape for 9437 to Stadt.

2002 - Won shared award for Best Director in the Stop Crime Festival Artscape for Not A Prison.

2002 - Awarded a medal for Committed Community Educator.

1995/6 - Awarded a full course undergraduate bursary by South African Institute of Race Relations

2017/18   UCT -Teaching and Public Lectures/Talks

2018 Performer 3rd year acting course coordinator

2019 Performer 4th year acting course coordinator

Taught graduating 3rd year diploma theatre making students

Taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th bilingual acting in class and through productions and projects

Taught 3rd years directing scenes

Taught 4th years students profession practice

Taught Honours Making Theatre of Rituals and Spirituality

Supervised two MA Students

External Examination for University of Pietermaritzburg performing arts graduating students

Magnet Theatre Teacher

Coordinated Magnet Theatre Culture Gang Community Intervention Development Program

Taught at theatre Arts Admin

1990 to 2006 OTHER TEACHING

2006 - Arts and culture teacher’s 5days course under Jazzart

2005-2006 - Design and taught arts and culture school

2003 - Storytelling workshop for umbono we Africa

2002 - Facilitated storytelling teachers making school plays

2005 - Design and taught issue-based theatre making for UCT Desmond Tutu HIV&AIDS Foundation field educators

2004 - Site specific storytelling Eastern Cape Qolorha by the Sea

2003-2005 - Drama and storytelling arts Clanwilliam arts project-facilitator

2003-2005 - Facilitator of directors-workshop for high school teachers- Artscape under Magnet

2002 - Physical storytelling and making masks for delft library-school holidays

2001 - Workshops and movement facilitator in Puna, India under Phakama Project

1999-2002 - Community Arts Project as part time co-ordinator & educator for performing arts.

1998 - Facilitated drama for self-realisation and empowerment in Pollsmore prison for creative education B4-Project

1998 - Worked for the Young Vic Theatre in England, teaching drama and theatre skills to young adults, worked with the Cardboard Citizen Project conducting storytelling workshops under Iindiza Theatre Company.

1997 - Lovers plus issue-based play making for youth

Research, presentation and publication:

  • Barnes Hazel. 2015. Creating Communitas: the theatre of Mandla Mbothwe in Cape of Flows: performing migrancy and mobility at the tip of the African continent, edited by Mark Fleishman. London: Palgrave MacMillan
  • Magnet Theatre Migration Book- two play- Ingcwaba lendoda lisecankwe ndlela and Inxeba Lomphilisi
  • Magnet Theatre; Three Decades of Making Spaces
  • Chapter 7- Theatre That Can Organise, Mobilise, Conscientize:
  • Talk: Arts and Cultural Imbizo on African arts industries:  Making bridges’ and defeating distances through
  • Talk: GIPCA
  • Talk: GiPCA/ICA
  • 2016 - Wrote an introduction to the Phakama Book​​​​​​​
  • 2017 Gave a talk in Cape Town Open Book International festival
  • Gave a talk in Institute for Creative Arts ‘s 3rd Space conference

An overview and analysis of the Beyond Silence Project 2001 – 2006 available from Hiddingh library. This DVD disseminates research undertaken in conjunction with DELTA focusing on women’s issues with particular reference to issues of domestic violence, rape, oppression and empowerment. The DVD involves:

  • A record of the performance
  • An analysis of the aesthetics and performance forms used
  • Interviews with the participants and director
  • Evaluations of the project from the director/s
  • Evaluations of the project from audience members

2017: personal interest reflections

My research has been constantly and continues to be framed by concepts of “Reclaiming the stolen memory” and “Excavating the Buried Stories” by locating Language, Culture and Spiritual Practices in employment of Ritual Performances, Site-specific Performances, Public Mass Participatory Performances, Live Installation Performances, Processional Arts Installations, Museums, memorial sites (officially declared or not) and Monuments (officially declared or not). Creating multiple Creative Expressions on Community Memories through heritage, cultural centres, educational institutions and community-based organisations of all levels. 

Investigation into various ways of developing a critical narrative of my past work, in search of its identity, evolutional and meaning. Isivuno samaphupha, Ingcwaba lendoda lisecankwe kwendlela, Inxeba Lomphilisi, Ukutshona koMendi, - Biko’s Quest, - Oratorio of the forgotten youth, 1976 spirits, Herbs and Idioms, Iyazika, Ndabamnye no SS Mendi, Sabamnye no Mendi, Side sibebanye no Mendi exhibition of pics and films, Gugulethu 7, Nguvu ya Mbegu and G7: Okwe Bokhwe​​​​​​​

Can Re-claiming of identify through memory Instil Confidence and heal societies?

Reclamation of Storytelling Places taking over and underutilised spaces- Artscape, lost in translation of transformation, can Roses grow in Tombstones?

All these projects seek to be the illustrated commentary on these Project covering their history, purpose, methodology and efficacy.


2017 - to date - Theatre in the Backyard Company

2006 - Hearts and Eyes Theatre Company

2005-to date - Magnet Theatre Educational Trust

2005 - Nantsi’ nqayi Community Arts Development

2004/5 - Africa Vision’ Umbono we Africa (South Africa and Italy collaboration) Theatre and drama consultant