Ari Sitas

Ari Sitas is a poet, dramatist and sociologist. A founder member of the Junction Avenue theatre company in Johannesburg, he was involved in most of its productions until 1982 when he moved to Durban.

Sitas’s involvement in popular and worker theatre since the 1970s has been widely celebrated, his broader writing and involvement as a leading intellectual in anti-Apartheid movements has left a trail of robust engagements within and outside the country. In 1978 the theatre company received the Olive Schreiner Award for his play Randlords and Rotgut, and in 1981 won an award for the video/film Howl at the Moon. His first collection of poetry Tropical Scars (1989) met with much critical acclaim, and he followed this with a collection experimenting with musical form, was included in the anthology, Essential Things (1990). Sitas’s book, Slave Trades (2000), a result of seven years of research and writing has been highly praised. His last collection, The RDP Poems (2004) was his most disturbingly controversial with their precise and bleak analysis of current traumas in South Africa’s transition. Rough music (2014) is his current collection of poetry. Sitas has also penned a libretto for an opera for composer Jurgen Brauninger, Dead Fish and Dreams of Love Again.

Ari Sitas is considered to be one of the country’s leading sociologists and has been elected by the International Sociological Association on the executive of its world council. Locally, he is seen to be a central thinker around the African Renaissance and of social justice and labour movements. He is currently working on a collection of his plays, a take on Around the World in 80 days (of which the India section has been completed) and a series of lyrics titled Insurrections done in conjunction with other poets and composers from South Africa and India.