One of the great socio-realists of his time, Charles Dickens captured the joys and tragedies of city life in his little-known non-fiction work The Uncommercial Traveller.  The book features people and places which inspired many of his future works, and gives the reader a glimpse into the personal thoughts and opinions of a man fascinated by cities and those living in them. Dickens was particularly interested in the parts of a city which remain hidden from public view, and he could often be found wandering the back streets on late-night insomniac walks.

Using this approach of seeking out forgotten places and uncovering hidden stories,  participants in Punchdrunk and Arcola Theatre’s The Uncommercial Traveller project explored the city and worked in teams to devise, write and record short audio pieces over a five day period. Working with directors Owen Calvert Lyons (Arcola Theatre), Raquel Meseguer (Punchdrunk) and artist James Webb, workshop participants developed creative and reflective audio-guided tours of locations in the city of Cape Town – journeys which allow audiences to see the city in a new light.

The project will culminate in downloadable public guided tours of Cape Town, to be launched at the Infecting the City Festival on 13 March 2013. MP3 players with the tours will be also available from the Infecting the City Festival Centre (6 Spin Street) from 13-16 March, 08:30 – 13:00 daily.

Known in the UK for their innovative approaches to theatre and community engagement, Punchdrunk and Arcola Theatre have worked closely with the British Council to reconceive The Uncommercial Traveller as an international project. To date, the project has travelled to Karachi, Melbourne, Penang, Singapore and Portsmouth.

Directed by: Owen Calvert Lyons and Raquel Meseguer
Sound design: James Webb
Cape Town audio tours devised by: Kim Kerfoot, Genna Gardini, Brink Scholtz, Ongezwa Mbele, Mdu Kweyama, Owen Manemela, Rosa Postlewhaite, Shannon Hughes, Krystle Marrier d’ Unienville, Busisiwa Mpotye, Lwando Tyokolo, Tarryn Saunders, Florance Vermeulen, Nhlanhla Qhomo, Thulani Maguda and Asanda Rilityana.

Download the tours:
01_The Potjie
02_Memory Sickness
04_Consider This
05_The Mission


Download Uncommercial Traveller map with locations.

Uncommercial Traveller video recording:

Start: 7 Mar ’13

End: 11 Mar ’13

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Various venues throughout the city

Phone: +27 21 480 7156