Jo’burg’s Market Theatre switches to DiGiCo
Wednesday, 12 January 2022
digicomarkettheatrentuthuko-mbuyazi1Ntuthuko Mbuyazi at the Market Theatre
South Africa - The Market Theatre, set in the heart of Newtown, Johannesburg, has been a voice for the voiceless for 45 years, originally portraying the struggles of apartheid and providing the platform for outstanding, authentic South African performances. The theatre has invested in its first DiGiCo audio console, selecting an SD9 supplied by DWR Distribution, an upgrade to its existing unit which was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, and also to complement its offering to external companies hiring the venue.
Ntuthuko Mbuyazi, who whilst at school thought he’d become a zoologist and ended up graduating at the Cape Audio College instead, joined The Market Theatre in April 2015, becoming the first permanent resident audio technician to be hired to oversee the John Kani, Barney Simon and Mannie Manim theatres. Initially the sole employee in his department, Mbuyazi soon filled the gaps, designing and engineering shows and later, appointing and guiding additional technicians when more than one venue needed attention.
“What’s beautiful for me is that I know the space inside out and am able to offer advice to external engineers unfamiliar with The Market Theatre,” Mbuyazi describes. “An audio engineer may hear a particular sound when sitting behind the desk, but having a special bond with the different spaces, I know how much we can push and what the audio sounds like in the rest of the venue.”
While it has been a tough time navigating around the Covid-19 pandemic, fortunately the theatre approved budgets for a new mixing console in the previous financial year. “We had experienced many problems with our former desk and having it repaired was getting tougher, while supply chain regulations and approved budgets limited the search for a replacement console,” said Mbuyazi. “The SD9 was part of a more extensive investment.”
Mbuyazi’s introduction to the SD9 was on Gregory Maqoma’s show Cion – Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro at the Joburg Theatre in 2019. “I also managed to use the SD9 on my most recent tour with Gregory Maqoma in Spain this year, and the desk proved to be theatre friendly for both these massive shows. Most consoles are instantly music friendly, but not every console is theatre friendly. These factors guided us to confidently choose DiGiCo as our preferred console.”
With the recent delivery of the new console, DWR Distribution’s Kyle Robson presented a basic introduction training session, and once Mbuyazi has experimented and is more familiar with the platform, will present an advanced training course. “At the moment it’s a teething process, having only used the console on two occasions,” Mbuyazi explains. “While I haven’t reached a place of knowing the features thoroughly, that time is coming soon and I’m very excited to use this baby!”
The Market Theatre has a number of pop up or external productions, enabling the client to use the theatre and equipment for a shoot, live show or live recording. “I’ve had many FOH engineers coming into my space and struggling with our previous console, as it wasn’t one normally used for festivals or events,” said Mbuyazi. “Clients have wanted a more user-friendly console, and with the SD9, I will be able to accommodate them.”

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