So Solo Festival at Wits Theatre

The So Solo 2017 commissioned play is Tracks, Maude Sandham’s poignant and deeply personal exploration of her family’s history through her grandfather Alan Sandham’s story.

Wits Theatre’s So Solo Festival celebrates the one-person play with a dozen diverse and thought provoking theatrical experiences from some of South Africa’s most talented actors. Running from September 27 to October 8, the festival is in it’s fourth year and has become an annual barometer of the predominant undercurrents within South African society.

This year’s chosen plays allow audiences to immerse themselves in the stories that reflect the huge diversity of experience and reality.

“Solo performers delve deeply into themselves to create performances that reflect the overt and subliminal dilemmas of a country wrestling with multiple demons. Their experiences are our experiences as we struggle to find a sense of self, to fix an identity, to make sense of our world rocked each day by forces that are seemingly beyond our control,” says Wits Theatre director Gita Pather, who established the festival in 2013.

Painful Joy stars Tebogo Radebe as a waiter whose true self is hidden behind the mask of subservient service to unseeing diners.

“I have always believed in the power of the word. That power is intensified in performance and never more so than in the solo performer, who for the duration of a performance grabs our attention, forces us to focus, think and reflect. And that is what the arts do… it changes us and surely that is what we need…change?“ she adds.

Identity is a predominant theme at this year’s festival with 12 actors interrogating personal histories, values and aspirations against the volatile turbulence of a society in flux. Each production is different, its creative form reflective of the amazing talent that epitomises the performing arts in South Africa.

James Cairn performs James Cairn Against Humanity.


  • Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Penelope Youngleson’s combine oral tradition, song, instrumentation and physical theatre in the award-winning A Man and a Dog, which will play in Gauteng for the first time.
  • Linda Tshabalala’s Books and Boxes unpacks the art and trauma of a writer attempting to record his experience.
  • James Cairns gets his audience involved in creating his solo improvised show James Cairns Against Humanity.
  • Agony, conceived by the late Greg Melvill-Smith and Douglas Thistlewhite and performed by Wits alumni Craig Morris grapples, with male identity in all its tortured complexity.
  • Mark Tatham’s new work Man Up is about an unbridled masculinity personified in the life of Brian Mitchell, a South African street gym workout champion.
  • Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja and Abby Molz examine the complex experiences of womanhood in My Koek is Moeg.
  • Kgomotso Nkomo under the direction of Linda wa ka Shabangu explores a young girl’s spiritual awakening in Nomvula – A Candle in the Rain.
  • Hannah Van Tonder and Paul Noko journey into an interrogation of culture, values and traditions in The Cursed Vagina.
  • Tebogo Radebe uses participatory theatre performance in Painful Joy to unravel the secret musings of a waiter.
  • Rob van Vuuren brings his special style of comedy to the Wits stage in a one-night-only performance of The Best of Rob van Vuuren.
  • Billy Langa celebrates the art of the solo performance in Tswalo.
  • The So Solo 2017 commissioned play is Tracks, Maude Sandham’s poignant and deeply personal exploration of her family’s history through her grandfather Alan Sandham’s story. By tracking the myths, retelling the stories and delving into the memories of Alan, Maud engages with the past in a way that allows us to understand the present.

“Maude Sandham‘s creative career is reflective of a mind constantly engaging with the nuanced complexities of being a young South African. Tracks was commissioned for So Solo 2017 because the personal story she chooses to tell is really the historical legacy of Apartheid and its lingering tendrils today,” says Pather.

Tickets are available at, Pick n Pay stores and the Wits Theatre’s Box Office.

  • Full price online – R75
  • Full price at Box office – R 80
  • Pensioner, Wits Staff and Student Discount online – R 60 on presentation of ID document or valid student card
  • Pensioner, Wits Staff and Student Discount Box office – R 65 on presentation of ID document or valid student card

Wits Theatre contact details:

Contact Yuhl on / Bridget for block bookings.

So Solo Programme 2017