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The prodigal daughter: Tshiamo Mokgadi makes a triumphant return to the Market Theatre as CEO

Tshiamo Mokgadi new Market Theatre Foundation CEO
PHOTO © Nathi Khumalo

CF: In what way did they contribute to giving you an appreciation and understanding of what it takes to successfully create art and run publicly funded performing arts centres? 

TM: The three positions saw me working in different administrative and technical roles, allowing me to work literally from project conception to completion and, with increasing responsibilities in each role, I became exposed to those ‘hidden’ layers of not only running a ‘company’ but one in a public sphere.

CF: You are taking over a ‘National Heirloom’ with the Market Theatre, which is now more than 40 years old and is a theatre with a very important role in the history of South Africa – a beacon of hope during the dark years of apartheid. You now have an important mandate to keep the ‘old’ traditional visitors while continuing to get a new audience to come to the theatre. How do you see yourself achieving this and what are your most important challenges?
TM: I believe I first have to get managers’ buy-in and semi-consensus on what the acceptable balance between ‘traditional’ and new would look like, and, most importantly, what it will take to attract the new audiences. Consensus (majority, not total) on that shared vision is the greatest opportunity standing between where we are now and where we could be. 

CF: We are celebrating Women’s Month at the moment and your appointment could not have come at a more appropriate time. What woman (either in your personal life, or a hero, mentor, etc.) inspires you, and who would you have liked to honour with a dedicated play/performance?
TM: My grandmother – Mmatshoke Mokgadi who passed away in my first year of university. Strict but very patient, nurturing and guiding. And her sister, Salome Mokgadi, who was the same and was that nurturer for my daughter for the first two years while I worked to build the foundations of my career.

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