About Us

An ex-primary school teacher, writer and performer, Sean O’Connor started TakeAway Theatre & Training in May 2001. Over the past twenty odd years, Sean has enjoyed the privilege of working with many of South Africa’s finest performers, comedians, artists and creators. For every project he contracts a team of independent professionals, depending on the context and the objective.

Some of our fantastic regulars:

Some projects we’re proud of:

Our Origin Story

by Sean O’Connor

Soon after my great good fortune to have co-authored, with Marlise Richter and the Wits Law Project, ‘Positive People – Managing HIV&Aids in the Workplace‘ in the late 1990’s, I became fascinated with the speed with which live theatre created community – second only to dance, according to Dan Baron Cohen, brother of the more famous Sasha, whom I shared some time with one memorable afternoon.

But then, I had a mentor, or actually, a wonderful friend, who taught me everything I knew. Dear Thurlow, a man whose brave intelligence saw the creation of so many utterly outrageous things. Thurlow, who didn’t believe in limits, and believed in people. He taught me industrial theatre, and I learnt that live performance is truly something else, and something quite magical in the way that it commands attention.

With his guidance, and a year’s worth of patience, I got the chance to use theatre together with a series of workshops to launch Shell’s HIV&Aids Treatment Program across Southern Africa in 1991. It was an incredible experience. It paid for my wedding, fireplace and laptop. It set me up.

Around then I conducted a series of confidential interviews with school teachers living with HIV and school principals battling with sick staff, and helped advise the Western Cape Education Department on their nascent Aids Policy. This was something that many organizations didn’t have in those days, when the virus was devastating local communities and most people had no access to treatment.

But I was uncomfortable about marketing myself as an HIV specialist, although it fascinated me. HIV, to paraphrase the Ugandan priest Gideon Byamugisha, provides a lens to examine people’s relationships, where they are strong and where they are weak, and where they are in need of mending.

I think Covid-19 provides a similar lens.

Clients started to request performances about other issues. Fraud, performance management, absenteeism, disability – that kind of stuff. Tricky issues that demanded a high degree of integrity from me, and considerable thought and transparency.

TakeAway Theatre developed a unique style and a way of doing things. We’ve prided ourselves on being able to work quickly on a brief received at the last minute, calling on a growing pool of talent. But the goal has always been to stay small, to stay true to doing work that makes a difference, and is enjoyable.

Otherwise what’s the point?