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Thursday, July 9, 2009


Report from artSMart Editor Caroline Smart at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Unfortunately, neither the energy level or the quality of breathing through a stuffed nose and throat allowed me to get back on track today.

I had booked to see It’s A Man’s World, the Eager Artists production which I had already seen in Durban and which was well represented with numerous nominations at the 2008 Durban Theatre Awards. I didn’t feel too bad about missing it, though, because Sifiso Sikhakhane had written me a very positive review on the production which is already posted to artSMart.

I did haul myself out of bed to head for town and get my hair washed (a daunting mission for me to handle!). If ever you need a good hairdressing salon, use Salon Gavroche in High Street. Feeling a bit more like a “real person”, I wandered up the street to the Drostdy Arch to look at the two little craft shops there which always have some interesting ideas for gifts to take home.

With the relocation of the Transnet Village Green Fair from Fiddlers Green (just down the hill from the City Hall) to the Rhodes Campus, the informal stalls now stretch right the way up High Street which does make parking a bit of a problem.

Fiddlers Green now houses the Transnet Container Village that previously took up the Church Square area between the cathedral and the City Hall. The change has created much controversy but the festival organisers say that it’s not cast in stone and this year’s festival-goers will provide an idea as to whether the move was successful or not.

Driving back home to the farm – and back to bed! – I deliberately chose a route quietly through the suburbs avoiding the crowds and cars. It reminded me what a beautiful city Grahamstown is. There are churches everywhere so if you get lost you can either look – apart for the Monument, which is an obvious landmark - for a number of steeples. Some of the houses in Grahamstown are settler homes (like the farm on which I am staying) built around 1820 and the architecture is splendid, particularly in the Worcester Street area. There are also some well-preserved buildings in Bathurst Street. Worth looking at, when you have some spare moments during festival.

Back home, I caught up with some more reading matter to see that the festival organisers have really got themselves up to date using media such as Facebook and Twitter ( The re-launched website ( is the “most advanced festival website in the country since it is interactive,” maintains festival CEO Tony Lankester. A new feature is a service called Festbuzz which allows festival goers to post messages via SMS to the website.

Here’s hoping tomorrow will see me up and about and headed for Village Green to see the new location for myself! – Caroline Smart