The Cry of Winnie Mandela

The Cry of Winnie Mandela

“The Cry of Winnie Mandela” makes its way to the Market Theatre stage.

Based on the beloved novel by esteemed poet, novelist, and essayist Njabulo Ndebele, The Market Theatre announces the premiere of The Cry of Winnie Mandela, a compelling theatrical production that delves into history, emotion, and the enduring strength of the female South African spirit.

Ndebele’s highly acclaimed novel was first released in 2003. It captured hearts and minds as an absorbing imagined reflection on four women at a specific period in the history of Southern Africa who spent time waiting for their men to return from exile, mines, political imprisonment, and study abroad. Their ordinary, ‘private’ stories are anchored to the more powerful public stories of Penelope, of ancient Greek mythology, who waited eighteen years while her husband Odysseus was away, and Winnie Mandela, who waited for twenty-seven years. The women question themselves and each other about why they waited and what this waiting did to them, leading to a series of extraordinary and haunting conversations with one another.

Adapted by Alex Burger, the stage production of The Cry of Winnie Mandela will take audiences on a theatrical journey. This poignant play is crafted by an exceptional creative team led by director MoMo Matsunyane, the current Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Theatre. She is working alongside costume designer, Onthatile Matshidiso, sound and videographer, Vangile Z. Mpumlwana, and award-winning set and lighting designer, Wilhelm Disbergen.

The action in the play centres the stories of Ndebele’s imagined four women. Between intense emotional moments and cleverly injected humour, the dynamic theatrical adaptation weaves together the characters’ private accounts, exposing the shadows, isolation, and complexities of their evocative experiences. A series of intimate and powerful rituals unfold as they share the profound impact of this period of their lives, delving into the depths of their longing and uncertainty as they forge their stories to that of the life and times of Winnie Mandela.

The universal theme of waiting serves as a starting point; a powerful motif, inviting audiences to reflect on the historical struggles of women while drawing parallels to our own contemporary lives. Through the characters’ shared experiences, the play celebrates the indomitable spirit of women while paying homage to the legacy of Winnie Mandela.

“The Cry of Winnie Mandela is the first new play in a season of productions that we are presenting this year as we reflect on South Africa’s 30 years of democracy”, said Greg Homann, Artistic Director of The Market Theatre. He added, “In this 30 Years of Democracy Season we aim to present powerful storytelling and exceptional performances with the hope of igniting necessary conversations that inspire and challenge audiences to feel and think about the journey our country has taken and the path we currently are on.”

You are invited to join an outstanding cast as they gather, sing, and share stories of strength and vulnerability in The Cry of Winnie Mandela. The production previews from 30 March 2024 and is currently scheduled to run until 21 April 2024.

An early-bird special on tickets is available until a week before the production opens. The Market Theatre also offers half-price tickets on Wednesdays at the cost of only R100.

Don’t miss this powerful exploration of love, resilience, courage, and the indomitable spirit of women.

Writer: Alex Burger (adapted from the novel of the same name by Njabulo S. Ndebele)
Director: MoMo Matsunyane
Lighting and Set Design: Wilhelm Disbergen
Costume Design: Onthatile Matshidiso
AV and Sound Design: Vangile Z. Mpumlwana

Rami Chuene as Mannete
Ayanda Sibisi as Delisiwe
Nambitha Mpumlwana as Winnie Mandela
Siyasanga Papu as Marara
Pulane Rampoana as Mamello
Les Nkosi as Prof Ndebele

Season: 30 March – 21 April 2024

Venue: Barney Simon Theatre, Market Theatre

For media enquiries please 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 / 083 246 4950 and Mamello Khomongoe / 081 572 9612

Lusanda Zokufa
072 367 7867
The Market Theatre Foundation