State Capture

State Capture

State capture play to premiere on the eve of 30 years of democracy.

On the cusp of the nation’s 30th year of democracy, The Market Theatre is opening a new play that delves into the labyrinth of personal interests, corruption, and abuse of power that has shaped the perilous world of current South African politics.

The Brothers, Number One and a Weekend Special is the story of the rise of State Capture, starting with the announcement of a new Minister of Finance in late-2015. The play, that tracks a two-year history, is written by astute political analyst, Richard Calland, who has been close to the frontline of South African politics since 1994 and a political columnist at the Mail & Guardian since 2001.

As the drama unfolds, an audience will witness the high-stakes manoeuvres, clandestine dealings, and the manipulation of public sentiment that fuelled further racial division across the nation. Calland weaves a compelling narrative that connects the dots between government, media, and corrupt businessman, laying bare the underbelly of a political landscape marked by noise, complexity, and a dangerous volatility. The bold new play will immerse audiences into a narrative rich with thought-provoking revelations, unravelling the complexities of power.

Theatre luminaries, David Dennis, Michael Richard, and Zane Meas lead the cast alongside Astrid Braaf, Ziaphora Dakile and Melissa Haiden. They are guided by The Market Theatre’s award-winning Artistic Director, Greg Homann, who is celebrated for his cutting-edge direction of new South African work. Under Homann’s adept direction, the exceptional cast brings South Africa’s political landscape to life on stage. The production is designed by Lisa Younger with filmmaker Xolelwa ‘Ollie’ Nhlabatsi bringing a dynamic multi-media element to the production.

Homann says, “The action in the play unfolds like a political thriller, so as much as the play is a bold exploration of contemporary history, it is also a theatrical experience.” He adds, “The Brothers, Number One and a Weekend Special allows an audience to gain deeper insights into the forces that have recently shaped South Africa as we approach our seventh democratic elections.”

This is Richard Calland’s debut as a playwright. Now an Emeritus Associate Professor in Constitutional Law at the University of Cape Town and Adjunct Visiting Professor at WITS, he has dedicated the past three decades to democratic governance and sustainable development, advising governments worldwide on transparency and governance reforms. As a sought-after political analyst, commentator and writer, he has authored books such as “Anatomy of South Africa” (2006) and “The Zuma Years” (2013), articulating South Africa’s political trajectory. He says, “Much of my career has been devoted to the principles of transparency and accountability, and constitutional democracy more generally, so the play is my contribution to keeping the story alive and in helping South Africa and other countries learn the lessons of when democracy is threatened.”

Speaking specifically about the play, Calland adds, “State Capture did great harm. But scandal fatigue in modern-day South Africa means that there is a great danger that society will just move on without digesting the underlying causes of what went wrong and why. This is where art can step in and help – by keeping the narrative alive and by dramatizing the complex web of political and legal strands of the story.” He states, “The play is a fable of our times, but also, poignantly, about the challenges that have confronted the African National Congress (ANC) as it has battled to contain malign forces from within and to keep alive its reputation as a proud liberation movement.”

Calland concludes, “Rebuilding hollowed out state institutions and restoring integrity in public life is proving to be the task of Sisyphus. The Zondo Commission recommends hundreds of remedial actions, but the basic storyline may be lost in the detail.”

The exciting production will run at the Mannie Manim Theatre at The Market Theatre with discounted previews from 20 April 2024, followed by an official opening on the eve of the countries 30th year of democracy. It will then run until 12 May 2024.

Book your tickets now via Webtickets to embark on a journey into the heart of South Africa’s political turbulence.

For more information, visit The Market Theatre’s website (

For media inquiries, contact Lusanda Zokufa (Brand, and Communication Manager at the Market Theatre Foundation) at or 011 832 1641 or 072 367 7867.

For reduced-price block bookings (of 10 or more) and school groups, contact Anthony Ezeoke, (Audience Development), at or 083 246 4950 and Mamello Khomongoe or 081 572 9612


Professor Richard Calland came to South Africa in 1994 to work on a voluntary basis for the ANC’s election campaign, following seven years as a barrister in London. He stayed in South Africa in order to take a position at democracy thinktank Idasa, to head a new parliamentary monitoring and information service during the heady days of the first democratic parliament. In due course he founded or co-founded a number of organisations including the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG), the Open Democracy Advice Centre and CASAC – the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution on whose advisory council he still serves.

Following 16 years based at the University of Cape Town as an Associate Professor in Constitutional Law from 2007-2023, he is now Emeritus Associate Law –– and a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the University of Witwatersrand School of Governance. Since 2022, he has led the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)’s new Board Leadership programme and in mid-2023 was appointed as Director of CISL’s new Africa programme, from its South African office.

A prominent political analyst, and a columnist for the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa since 2001, his latest book – The Presidents: From Mandela to Ramaphosa, Leadership in The Age of Crisis – was published in late 2022. Earlier books include Anatomy of South Africa: Who holds the power? (2006), The Zuma Years (2012) and Make or Break: How the next three years will shape South Africa’s next three decades (2016).

Lusanda Zokufa
072 367 7867
The Market Theatre Foundation