The Colonnades Theatre Lab (United States and South Africa)
The Colonnades Theatre Lab (CTL) was founded by Michael Lessac in 1973 in New York City as a developmental center for theatre and film. Its primary goal was to develop an ensemble company that would nurture new playwrights and screenwriters and produce new work that would not traditionally be considered by conventional, commercial enterprise.
Incorporated as a non-profit repertory theatre it ran in active rolling repertory for 10 full years. During that time, CTL was also an official Ford Foundation “challenge grant” theatre; an annual recipient of grant awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the New York State Council on the Arts; the Axe-Houghton Foundation; the Xerox Corporation and many other sponsorships and philanthropies. The Colonnades Theatre Lab received numerous accolades during its rolling repertory years for its work, most notably for its premiere productions of international theatre including original adaptations of the novels of Bulgakov (Moliere in Spite of Himself) and Frank O’Connor (Guests of the Nation, later seen on Public Television in the US). The Colonnades production of Shakespeare’s Cabaret transferred to Broadway where it was nominated for several musical Tony awards. Recently, CTL co-produced a documentary film on the Dali Lama, The Cry of the Snow Lion (2003), which was released to excellent reviews.
In 2005, CTL established a South African non-profit branch. Its primary mission is to develop theatre and film pieces which identify situations around the world where there is, or once was, struggle for justice, human rights or basic human dignity, and which celebrate the possibility of change. South Africa has managed to create an exceptional environment for change to take place in the last decade, and CTL aims to further establish environments where thinkers, artists and scientists from South Africa and the international community can collaborate in processes of exploration, research and artistic development – an invaluable resource in helping to change preconceptions, eliminate the need for denial, and promote a culture of human rights and mutual respect.
Colonnades Theatre Lab Producers:
Artistic Director & Producer: Michael Lessac
Executive Producer: Jacqueline Lessac
South African Producer: Yvette Hardie
International Producer: Robert Lear
The Market Theatre (South Africa)
Dramatic theatre started in Johannesburg in 1976, regarded nationally and internationally as South Africa’s premiere theatre; came to prominence during the anti-apartheid struggle as a centre of great South African original plays, many of which have toured the world. The Market Theatre complex houses 3 theatres and presents an average of 20 productions a year. Its many outreach and education projects cater to historically disadvantaged members of the community and to youth through its Market Laboratory and the Photo Workshop. In 1995, the Market Theatre was awarded the international Jujamcyn Award for “having proved that art can change a society.”