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:
Centenary Celebration: Keynote Performance at CTICC
Our Customer – National Sales Conferences for two years running (because it was so funny.)
Customer Service for 2010 World Cup
Customer Service for not the 2010 World Cup
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA)
We’ve been doing amazing workshops with mentors in KZN and Gauteng for several years now.
Community Media Trust
HIV Know Your Status
Cullinan Diamond Mine
We perform for these guys every seven years because that’s apparently how long the effects of each show last, according to our clients. Mainly about supply chain and fraud.
Dept. Economic Development and Tourism Western Cape
Workplace Health and Safety mainly, several provincial roadshows over a 15-year relationship.
Dept. Social Development Western Cape
Our Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder show, ‘Die Liefdeskind,’ was once sponsored by these guys.
Wellness Days for a couple years running – ambush theatre in the factory.
Industrial Health and Safety a few times
Our long-time partners on the Fetal Alcohol scene. We’ve done nearly five hundred shows since 2006, many in partnership with this incredible organisation.
Foundation for Alcohol-Related Research (FARR)
An extreme event: a whole business performance at the Barnyard Theatre for an audience of over 400 staff, after a month’s workshopping and rehearsals. Insane, incredible. Hopefully we can do it again one day.
Design, facilitation and handover of induction program.
Staff engagement and film in the factory. Very beautiful – an amazing months long process.
So much stuff before the merger with Momentum – lots and lots of industrial theatre and the co-design of entire national sales conferences. Also designed and facilitated their induction program.
And! We got to make a Western. Yes, a friggin’ Western, about a change of regulation that hit the sales teams.
MMI Holdings (Metropolitan/Momentum)
Back in the rocky days of the Zuma era, there was lots to make fun of. Ambush theatre.
National Prosecuting Authority
Design and facilitation of induction program for almost seven years. Seven years!
Diversity and BBBEE, Wellness and other issues in many shows over the years. Know this Head Office like the back of… I’m not saying.
HIV and Wellness. Some very fruity shows, all over the country.
Perishable Products Control Board
We did some really crazy good stuff with Sanlam… performances at Leadership Conferences were a highlight. Once a Senior Manager said: ‘You know what you did there? You woke the dead.’
Major Southern African roadshow to launch HIV treatment program many years ago.
We cheered this rather stressed gang of prosecutors up no end at a conference in Jo’burg. Escaped with our lives.
Special Investigating Unit (SIU)
Lots of industrial theatre about the customer has led to film work in recent years. We’ve made quite a few.
The Foschini Group (TFG)
Fraud. Fraud !!! A muddy rainy roadshow many years ago, visiting far-flung places. Diamonds everywhere.
Improvisation for MBA students – a collaboration with the Bonfire Theatre Company and more recently Groundspring Theatre Company, but often run with TakeAway Interactive partner Heather Schiff. See ‘Interactive’
University of Cape Town – Graduate School of Business
Alcohol on Campus Industrial Theatre 2020… shucks, did we cause trouble! (Luckily, that was the brief.)
Agility for teams in the Age of Covid – a three part online course including live performance for the Dept. of Student Communities at Stellenbosch University
University of Stellenbosch
Our Values – yes that’s our Premier on his chair within about 30 seconds
Western Cape Dept. of the Premier
An incredible experience, a show about gambling for Grade 10 and 11 learners, plus a workshop and a very cool evaluation of it all.
Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board
Woolworths Financial Services
‘How to have a great Performance Management conversation.’ What a relief – it’s not as hard as you think.
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.