The Soweto Theatre stands provides a lively performing arts hub and forum (photo: Louise Stickland)
South Africa - The colourful eye-catching architecture of the Soweto Theatre stands at the centre of Jabulani, an area fast developing into a bustling future Central Business District. For the last 10 years, the venue, designed by Afritects, has provided a lively performing arts hub and forum for creative expression reaching into the heart of the local community.
In 2023, the lighting department, headed by Nkululeko Mazibuko, received 12 new Robe Esprite moving lights as part of a technical upgrade which was co-ordinated by the venue’s technical manager, Lebugang Andrew Mnisi.
The lights were delivered by Robe’s South African distributor, DWR, and join the original Robe LEDWash 300 and 600E Spot moving lights that have been working hard in the theatre since it opened in 2012, together with the LEDBeam 150s that were purchased in 2019.
The Esprites, which will be deployed in the Soweto Theatre’s largest closed performance space, the Gibson Kente Theatre, are “a big leap forward”, says Nkululeko.
The theatre hosts a diversity of theatrical and drama performances and is also regularly used for concerts, music-based TV programmes, gospel shows, musicals, DVD shoots and festival events so Esprites were chosen for their multipurpose nature.
They are also bright enough to be rigged on the outside amphitheatre stage. Now at the back part of the Theatre, this was Soweto’s original performance space and can accommodate up to 10,000 people in its current format, complete with sweeping views of the hills and south part of the city.
The theatre’s programme also includes many community productions, and everyone there enjoys giving these a professional presentation. “These new fixtures will help us make people’s work look great, and that’s what we enjoy making happen,” Lebugang added.
Soweto Theatre’s general manager, Vincent Motau, commented: “Soweto Theatre is constantly improving its technology to broaden the horizons of an artist's creativity while also limiting the problems that they might encounter. As a result, our theatre practitioners now have more time to contemplate and expand their creativity.
“Robe has made another major leap in innovation, and the Esprite Profile LED automated luminaire has a fast-change, low-cost, transferable light engine ingeniously solving the problem of performance longevity for those preferring the higher brightness of white source LEDs as an obvious replacement for old and ageing stock of discharge workhorses.”
DWR’s Kevin Stannett, who looks after the Soweto Theatre account, highlights that getting a luminaire like Esprite in-house also makes sense from a cross-rental perspective. “If they need to increase the quantity for a specific show, the stock can be augmented as there are already plenty of Esprites in circulation.” Lighting control is grandMA.
Everyone at the Soweto Theatre is dedicated and passionate about their work, community and how music and theatre can have a positive effect, engaging and uniting people, ideas, and societies.

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