Looking for things to do in Cape Town? Alexander Upstairs is an intimate performance space completely separate from the bar area with a festival-style programming model featuring drama, comedy, cabaret, jazz, acoustic sessions, readings and more. We often schedule more than one performance per night so please check times carefully when booking.

The Woman with a Baby on her Back

Drama • Running Time: 65 mins
Written by Athol Fugard | Performed by Pieter van Zyl | Directed by Thomas Leabhart
This adaptation of Athol Fugard's riveting short story  'To whom it must concern' portrays the impact a tragic event has on the life and psyche of a Karoo train driver, Roelf Visagie. During the hour long one man play, Roelf and other characters share with the audience their unique perceptions of the same incident. The play is presented in a simple manner, and deals with universal issues of humanity.

'The woman with a baby on her back' is the result of a collaboration between Pieter van Zyl (actor) and Prof Thomas Leabhart, director and senior professor in drama at the Pomona College in Claremont, California. The play was given its first performances at the Seaver Theater in California, where it was received with much praise and acclaim. The performances at the Alexander Theatre mark the South African premiere of the play.
Athol Fugard is one of South Africa's most esteemed playwrights. He is best known for his political plays opposing apartheid and for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film of his novel Tsotsi. The recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, he is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Pieter van Zyl (actor) has studied acting at the Akademie van Dramakuns in Cape Town and then continued his theatre studies in London, Paris and California, specializing in the corporeal mime technique of Etienne Decroux. In London, as a member of Theatre de l'Ange Fou, he performed in 'Entangled Lives' (Tardieux) and 'The Government Inspector' (Gogol); and in California in 'Spoonriver Anthology' (Masters) and 'Maid To Marry' (Ionesco). In South Africa he created four plays that were much influenced by his study of corporeal mime: 'On a green footpath'; 'BREAD'; 'When the saints go marching'; 'Early Works - a love story'.  For the Spier production of 'The Great Gatsby', directed by Peter Joucla, he played the character of Wilson. Pieter's voice is regularly heard in plays and readings on RSG. He has a master's degree in music and also works as a musician.

Thomas Leabhart (director) is Professor of Theatre and Resident Artist at the Pomona College in Claremont, California. He frequently teaches and performs in Europe, Asia and South America and is a member of ISTA (International School of Theatre Anthropology) Artistic Staff. His specific areas of scholarship is Etienne Decroux, with whom he studied from 1968 - 1972. Thomas Leabhart is the most published writer on the subject of corporeal.

Press & Reviews

  • Mon 20th Apr 2015 Media Update

Book for The Woman with a Baby on her Back by clicking the button of the date and time you wish to attend:
Mon 27th Apr 7pm R90 (R80 online): Hurry! Only 17 tickets left! Tue 28th Apr 7pm R90 (R80 online) Tue 5th May 7pm R90 (R80 online) Wed 6th May 7pm R90 (R80 online) Thu 7th May 7pm R90 (R80 online) Fri 8th May 7pm R90 (R80 online) Sat 9th May 7pm R90 (R80 online)


Drag • Running Time: 60 mins
Lilly Slaptsilli
Fresh from a colonic, drag star Lilly Slaptsilli celebrates an extended run of her hit solo show Shenanigans. She's hauling her heels upstairs along with lipstick, trilogy, tiaras, parody and pantyhose from the top drawer. Whether you’re an avid fan of drag shows or have yet to experience one, the hostess of humour with a licence to lip-sync will pull a cast of characters from her closet to delight, thrill and entertain you. Shenanigans is a glamorous evening of provocative and playful performances by Lilly Slaptsilli.

Book for Shenanigans by clicking the button of the date and time you wish to attend:
Thu 30th Apr 9pm R150 (R140 online) Fri 1st May 9pm R150 (R140 online)


Hip-Hop/Perfromance Art • Running Time: 60 mins
Directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph & Sean San Jose | Written & Performed by Dahlak Brathwaite | Presented by Joan Osato & Kyla Smith of The Shortened Tongue
Warning: Adult content & adult language
In Spiritrials, addiction, religion, and the law intersect in a government funded drug rehabilitation program. A timely exploration of the American criminal justice system, this multidimensional play blurs the lines between hip-hop and dramatic performance.  Dahlak Brathwaite weaves through the autobiographical and the fictional, music and monologue, to examine his place in what appears to be a cultural rite of passage for Black Americans.

Spiritrials is made possible through the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Columbia Foundation and Ictus; a fiscally sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. Youth Speaks/The Living Word Project is a NPN Partner for the National Performance Network (NPN). This project is made possible in part by the support from the NPN Creation Fund, NPN Forth Fund and the NPN Performance Residency Program. Major Contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (A Federal Principal development support was provided by Painted Bride Arts Center (PA), Ithaca College (NY), Sonoma State University, and the Montalvo Art Center (Saratoga, CA).

Book for Spiritrials by clicking the button of the date and time you wish to attend:
Fri 1st May 7pm R90 (R80 online) Sat 2nd May 7pm R90 (R80 online)

When We Were Nearly Young

Storytelling • Running Time: 60 mins
Written & Performed by Lebogang Mogashoa
Lebogang tells hilarious stories. He survived North Korean bomb threats. He’s the one to call when you need help recovering from secret jaw-shaving cosmetic surgery. He knows which celebrity endorsed (urgh, Gwyneth) detox diet causes Martha Stewart hallucinations. And he knows what it's like to live inside a political campaign. Bring friends and all of your emotions to this show.
In When We Were Nearly Young, Lebogang Mogashoa tells real stories from his life with humour and candor. These are tales often shared among friends after a really good meal. They are personal and leave you feeling less alone in the world.
This time around Lebogang shares hilarious and poignant stories about helping a friend hide from her family while recovering from secret plastic surgery, the highs and lows of his mother’s political campaign, a carefully planned but disastrous first kiss, an unexpected religious conversion and living close next-door to North Korea for five years.
When We Were Nearly Young is modelled after storytelling shows like This American Life, The Moth and RISK!

Book for When We Were Nearly Young by clicking the button of the date and time you wish to attend:
Tue 5th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Wed 6th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Thu 7th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Fri 8th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Sat 9th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Mon 11th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Tue 12th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Wed 13th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Thu 14th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Fri 15th May 9pm R90 (R80 online) Sat 16th May 9pm R90 (R80 online)

Naked Girls Reading Cape Town presents Feast!

Live reading • Running Time: 70 mins
Produced by Kelly Smith | Readers: Charlie French, Golden Delishas, Lady Magnolia & Miss Fuma
Warning: Nudity... obviously.
Facebook Event
What is Naked Girls Read­ing?
Naked Girls Read­ing is a nude lit­er­ary salon that takes place in twenty cities around the world and on five dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents. At each event, a small cast of beau­ti­ful ladies removes their cloth­ing (yes, all of it) and reads per­sonal selec­tions to an ador­ing audi­ence. It is enter­tain­ing, mag­i­cal, often funny, some­times heart wrench­ing and really very sexy.

Are the girls really naked?
Yes, we are.

Is the audi­ence naked?
No, they are not.

There’s some­thing beau­ti­ful, some­thing alto­gether more inti­mate, about a woman read­ing in the nude. It’s just that sim­ple.
The Cape Town chapter has been described as a "performance art sensation" on eTV Primetime News and has been featured in The Sunday Times, as well as recommended by Elle magazine's online gig guide.

Naked Girls Read­ing, called “appro­pri­ately racy” by Enter­tain­ment Weekly and “the best thing to hap­pen to books since they were put on tape…” by Car­son Daly, was founded in Chicago in March of 2009 by Inter­na­tional Show­girl Michelle L’Amour and hus­band Franky Vivid.

Book for Naked Girls Reading Cape Town presents Feast! by clicking the button of the date and time you wish to attend:
Wed 27th May 8pm R160 (R130 online) Thu 28th May 8pm R160 (R130 online)

Tape Hiss and Sparkle

Alt Folk • Running Time: 60 mins
Simon Tamblyn - Guitar & vocals | Mandisi Nkomo - Drums | Alessandro Busetto - Bass guitar
Lo-fi folk act, Tape Hiss and Sparkle, celebrate the release of their latest album, The Winter Switch. Come and enjoy an evening of  music that leads you off the beaten track.

Book for Tape Hiss and Sparkle by clicking this button:
Fri 29th May 8pm R80 (R70 online)


Sleight of Hand • Running Time: 60 mins
Performed by Stuart Lightbody | Written by Stuart Lightbody & Tara Notcutt | Directed by Tara Notcutt
Warning: May blow your mind
Just back from Fringe World Perth where "Devilish" was nominated for the Theatre Award!

They say that the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist. Well, Stuart Lightbody remains unconvinced.

From the creators of the Illusive, which won a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown and the Creative Award at the Prague Fringe Festival comes a diabolical mix of sleight of hand artistry and psychological illusion filled with secrets and confessions. Whether you’ve danced with the devil in the pale moonlight, or just want to flirt with something wicked, come and take a seat with Stuart Lightbody: he has a story to tell…
“Stuart Lightbody [is a] sleight of hand extraordinaire” – Cape Argus (2009)

“Stuart Lightbody is a well spoken affable young man, lucky to be alive in the 21st century – otherwise he’d be burned as a witch.” - Adelaide Advertiser (2013)

“Every part of the performance is breathtaking and so elegantly executed you find yourself, if only for a moment, believing in magic.” – Cape Times (2013)

“…everyone he invites up onto the stage becomes part of a quite amazing disruption of everyday belief” – Adelaide Advertiser (2013)

“… he replaces normal human gullibility with an awestruck sense that what you have seen has to be magic” – Adelaide Advertiser (2013)

“Sleight-of-hand gets a shot of elegant theatricality courtesy of performer Stuart Lightbody…” – Cape Argus (2013)

“…beautifully impossible while still being impossibly beautiful.” – Cape Argus (2013)

“… an unreal experience that relies on pure artistry to entertain.” – Cape Argus (2013)

Book for Devilish by clicking the button of the date and time you wish to attend:
Mon 8th Jun 9pm R100 (R80 online) Tue 9th Jun 9pm R100 (R80 online) Wed 10th Jun 9pm R100 (R80 online) Thu 11th Jun 9pm R100 (R80 online) Fri 12th Jun 9pm R120 (R90 online) Sat 13th Jun 9pm R110 (R90 online)
Click here for a printable version of the programme. (ODT) (Print it out and give to your friends!)
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Tomorrow (Monday)

The Woman with a Baby on her Back

This Tuesday

The Woman with a Baby on her Back
28 Apr 7pm


The Woman with a Baby on her Back
Tue 5 7pm
Wed 6 7pm
Thu 7 7pm
Fri 8 7pm
Sat 9 7pm

Hip-Hop/Perfromance Art
Sat 2 7pm

When We Were Nearly Young
Tue 5 9pm
Wed 6 9pm
Thu 7 9pm
Fri 8 9pm
Sat 9 9pm
Mon 11 9pm
Tue 12 9pm
Wed 13 9pm
Thu 14 9pm
Fri 15 9pm
Sat 16 9pm

Naked Girls Reading Cape Town presents Feast!
Live reading
Wed 27 8pm
Thu 28 8pm

Tape Hiss and Sparkle
Alt Folk
Fri 29 8pm

This Thursday

30 Apr 9pm

This Friday

1 May 9pm

Hip-Hop/Perfromance Art
1 May 7pm


Sleight of Hand
Mon 8 9pm
Tue 9 9pm
Wed 10 9pm
Thu 11 9pm
Fri 12 9pm
Sat 13 9pm

For enquiries please call 021.300.1652.
Browse past shows here