“…what theatre gives us is a discovery of our own humanity and a discovery of other people’s humanity, which makes us better people…”

It is difficult to comprehend how far reaching and thorough the pernicious laws of Apartheid were when dividing up ethnic groups by race, language, and culture. A Muslim child in the Transvaal for instance would have had no arts education in their curriculum because it was perceived that Muslims had no singing and dancing in their culture, whereas a Hindu child in Natal did, and therefore arts subjects were extended to their schools.

Ismail Mahomed had never seen or experienced theatre until the age of 16 when by happenstance he saw The Tempest at the Colosseum in Johannesburg. It changed his life. From that date he never stopped writing his own plays, managing theatres, establishing festivals for poetry, dance, film and drama – plainly put – managing the Arts.

He studied theatre management in the US, enabling him to successfully manage a theatre in a right-wing enclave; he managed, to great acclaim, the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, next he was appointed the CEO of the Market Theatre where once, as a boy, his father was a fruit and veg trader.

He has earned an honorary doctorate from Tshwane University and a Chevalier knighthood from the French government. Today he is the Director of UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts.

His life is meaningful, his thoughts inciteful. He is acutely critical of government’s disregard of the arts, and he is highly articulate regarding the future of theatre in South Africa.