“…we wanted to make a theatre that really drew on the stories and the archive of this place, [South Africa] what it offered historically, but also in a contemporary sense…”

Mark Fleishman is multi-talented and multi-skilled. He is difficult to define. He has an MA and PHD Speech and Drama and is a Professor in the Drama Dept at UCT. Soon after his undergraduate degree, he joined the Market Theatre where Barney Simon greatly impacted his life. From the Market he followed his wife Jennie Reznik and joined the circus.

Together they have established something quite exceptional, Magnet Theatre. A crucible for developing young talent, frustrated by their wanting and lack of creative outlet. It is here that they have created a space for new writers to help purge historic pain. Theirs has been an irrepressible vision to do all things: To form a theatre company in which they can be caretakers of talent, create productions and performances unique to their own innate understanding of the needs of our multilingual, multicultural communities. They find, coax, nurture an individual’s latent voice through theatre.

Mark has directed an uncountable number of hugely successful, avant-garde plays, using Brecht, Dürrenmatt, Sophocles, to workshop new plays to fit a local idiom. Take Euripides’ Medea for example. A play about revenge, rage, and bloodshed. Known flaws in South African society. Mark adapted this play to incorporate Tamil, Tsotsitaal, Kaapse Taal, English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, so forging a new dramatic language without losing the power of the original Greek tragedy.

They have secured a far reach, taking productions across the world, attending festivals in Africa, Australia, Britain, Brazil and India. Furthermore, for seventeen years, (together with other collaborators) Mark has brought stories and performance art to the children of Clanwilliam, in an annual arts festival.

The turbines that drive Mark’s unique vision, the fires that forge his creativity,  should never be allowed to burn out, but should rather be stoked with sponsorship, recognition and  accolades of gratitude…