Dr. Sarah Roberts is Associate Professor in the Division of Theatre and Performance in the Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She teaches and lectures across a range of disciplines in undergraduate courses in addition to post-graduate studies. Her PhD and current research interests lie in developing improvisation skills and the agency of actors as an ensemble.
Publication output pursing the application of these ideas includes articles in the Journal of the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa and the Journal of Contemporary Drama in English. Her lecturing and teaching range straddles cultural studies, dramatic literature, performance technique, visual literacies and design.
In conjunction with her academic career she has developed a considerable reputation as a multi-award winning professional production designer whose portfolio includes significant productions emerging from South Africa since 1985. She has the distinction of having designed the stage for the Union Building Gardens for the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela and subsequently conceptualised and delivered the visual treatment of the Opera stage at the State Theatre for the Heads of State function following the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki.
She subsequently designed the stage for the Three Tenors in Africa on the same site as Mandela’s inauguration at the Union Buildings Pretoria Other major public events include national launches in venues as varied as the Johannesburg Athletics Stadium, Kings Park Rugby Stadium, The Standard Bank Arena in addition to the Superbowl at Sun City, the ICC in both Durban and Cape Town.
Her real investment, however, lies in the long association with emergent theatre in South Africa across the spectrum of opera, musical theatre, contemporary dance and drama. She has long established working collaborations with significant directors including Barney Simon, Mbongeni Ngema, Jay Pather, Malcolm Purkey, Phyllis Klotz and Small Ndaba. She has been actively involved with both the Sibikwa Project in Benoni since its inception and the National Children’s Theatre Trust.
Much of her work is associated with the canonical texts of South African theatre: these include Born in the RSA, You Strike the Woman -You Strike the Rock! Sarafina!, Sophiatown, D.E.T Boys High, and Nothing But the Truth among other productions that have been feted nationally and internationally and are considered as comprising the core of emergent local tradition. Her most recent major project has been the production design of the South African premiere of The Color Purple due to open in 2018.