(David Smith's article appeared in the Guardian, July 21.)

Letter from Africa: a place for theatre in post-apartheid South Africa

"I have a great idea for a play," I told Malcolm Purkey, the director of Johannesburg's internationally renowned Market Theatre. "A play about the forced removal of families from Sophiatown by the apartheid government."

He replied: "I wrote it 20 years ago. Look it up."

I tiptoed past Purkey and other theatre folk last week to take my seat at the Cinema Nouveau in Johannesburg. The red carpet had been rolled out for a special kind of premiere. The National Theatre in London's production of Phèdre, starring Helen Mirren, was shown in high definition on the big screen. The performance had been broadcast live last month to British cinemas, but took a few weeks to reach the southern hemisphere.

The poor relation after football and arms, theatre nonetheless provides a stage for a country exploring its new identity . . .

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