The Market Theatre was established in 1976 in Newtown on the site of Johannesburg’s old Indian Fruit Market. During the apartheid era the theatre staged powerful protest performances that pushed the limits of the censorship laws in apartheid South Africa, earning it a reputation as the ‘Theatre of the Struggle’. To this day the theatre continues this tradition of presenting engaging and bold productions that confront contemporary societal issues and the Market Theatre is still regarded as one of the country’s leading cultural institutions. If you're looking to indulge in the arts, then the Market Theatre is one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg.
During the apartheid-era the Market Theatre premiered a number of major plays, now widely regarded as classics of modern South African theatre, that introduced the world to the struggles of life under apartheid such as Woza Albert, Bopha, Asinamali, The Island, Sophiatown and You Strike the Woman You Strike a Rock. In particular the theatre became closely associated with leading playwright Athol Fugard, who premiered many of his dramas here, helping the theatre to gain its reputation for working tirelessly to bring about democracy and social reform through the arts.
In 1995 the American Jujamcyn Award was bestowed on the theatre. For more than two decades these awards have honoured resident theatre organisations that make an outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent in theatre. Altogether artistic excellence at the Market Theatre has been recognised by 21 international and more than 300 South African theatre awards and the theatre has gained an international reputation for its thrilling productions such as Sophiatown, which have travelled the world to wide acclaim.
Located in the heart of the Newtown Cultural Precinct the theatre is surrounded by a number of other important Johannesburg attractions such as Museum Africa, the Worker’s Museum and the SAB World of Beer and the building now shares space with the Newtown Junction shopping precinct which houses numerous shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.