national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


National Arts Festival Fringe 2011

More than 350 productions, exhibitions and concerts will again provide a platform to showcase the work of emerging and established artists from around South Africa, Africa and the world on the 2011 National Arts Festival Fringe, from June 30 to July 10 in Grahamstown.

Contemporary Dance highlights include The Matchbox Theatre Collective’s The Anatomy of Weather, choreographed by Nicola Haskins and Bailey Snyman, with consulting choreographer PJ Sabbagha; Flatfoot Dance Company’s Bhakti, a dance theatre work that explores the meeting of Eastern mystical philosophy and African contemporary dance rhythms; and The Language We Cry In, a première collaboration between the Amaphiko Township Dance Project, Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company, and the Kingswood College Concert Band. Dance Spectrum is an ensemble of ballet, contemporary dance, jazz and Spanish flamenco performed by talented learners from the National School of Arts Dance Department; while Gumfusion, by SAreal Performing Arts and Artistree, includes a new style of dance that fuses tribal belly dancing with gumboot and physical theatre. The Reverb Dance Company from England returns to the Festival with Spring Board, and the Northern Dance Project brings Visions Du Mouvement. The Indigenous Dance line-up includes the Umngqungqo Ensemble, Maqubuthuli, Sukumani Makhosikazi, Masonwabe and Siyavuma Makhosi traditional dance groups.

On the Physical Theatre front, the programme includes OddBody Theatre’s 3 Acts of Love, Future Line Arts Academy’s Going Back to My Roots, Cape Town Edge’s Mafikeng Road and First Physical Theatre Company’s New Voices 2011 and Propeller.

Drama highlights include Melisizwe Community Theatre’s Children of the Soil, a play highlighting the plight of abandoned children; James Cairns’ and Taryn Bennett’s première of Sie Weiss Alles; and Umsindo Theatre projects’ To Be Like This Rock, written by Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Drama 2011 Neil Coppen. Mike van Graan is back at the Festival with Is It Because I'm Jack?; the Rother Swain Drama Studio brings Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys, and Windybrow Theatre in partnership with the National Arts Council bring Modus Vivendi and Sacred Women. Lara Bye’s 2010 Standard Bank Ovation Award winning London Road returns to the Festival as does Mouche, a 2008 ‘pick of the Fringe’ by ZikkaZimba Productions. Penn State University (USA) takes Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the streets in th e multicultural, hip hop musical, Revenge of the King, and KBT productions, with support from Culture Ireland, present Fiona York in the critically acclaimed Rose, a portrayal of the life of a feisty Jewish woman and the events that shaped a century.

Animal Fantasy and Leonard the Lion Cub by Puppet World, the Affie-Toneelgroep’s Brolloks en Bittergal, Dr Pocket's Ocean Commotion and The Land Of The Cranes by Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company are a few of the productions on the Family Theatre programme, catering specifically for children and families.

The Festival Fringe is notorious for its Comedy acts, and this year is no different, with more than 40 gigs on offer. Returning favourites include The Most Amazing Show with Corne and Twakkie, Matthew Ribnick’s Monkey Nuts, Rob van Vuuren, David Newton, Dr Stef, Martin Evans and Siv Ngesi. Theatre for Africa brings the 22nd edition of Raiders – Rocket Raiders, and Butler’s Pizza support, Justin Wilkinson’s fourth episode of the hugely popular whodunit series, Butlers and Blackmail. Mark Sampson has a brand new show, Africa Clockwise, that keeps one eye on the environment while cracking its audience up; Whacked Management present the winner of the Best Newcomer at the 2011 Comic Choice Awards, Daniel Friedman in Deeply Fried; and The Durban Comedy Invasion makes its debut in Grahamstown, bringing Durban’s hottest stand-up comedians together – Gareth Woods, Glen Bo, Jem Atkins and Dusty Rich. Stuart Lightbody returns with his mesmerising adult magic in Stuperstition and newcomer Brendon Peel plies his psychological illusions on an unsuspecting audience in Mind Games. Clare Mortimer directs The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) , an irreverent romp through all 37 of the bard’s plays in just 97 minutes; and Rich Orlaff’s comic vaudeville Romantic Fools is brought to hilarious life by Kelly Kowalski and Raymond Rudolph. Live and Kicking sums up the Festival comedies – prepare for an unplanned, uncensored, and unbelievably funny line-up of the best comics in town – booking is essential!

The Cabaret / Revue category welcomes on stage Follow Spot Productions with the 2010 Standard Bank Ovation winning Big Boys don’t Dance and their new production, Absolucy, starring Lucy Holgate. Cape Town-based five-voice vocal group, Track 5, present Date with Duke – a harmonious tribute to Duke Ellington and other well-known jazz composers; and Robert Ian Caldwell and Jeff Judge return to Grahamstown with A Green Number and Rolska Productions present a new show – What’s in a Name – a follow-up to their 2010 hit I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Boschwhacked Productions present Rose Red with Dianne Simpson and Dawid Boverhoff and FFF Productions present Feathers for Flight.

Two dozen Musical Theatre productions combine the best acting, dancing and singing talent for the Fringe stages. A few highlights to note include Scenes from Soweto by Soyikwa Theatre Company, a descriptive performance that takes the audience through the ins and outs of the life of Sowetans; Re-Alignment 1 by Sibikwa Art Centre, an innovative inter-active musical experience; and the Ghanaian production The Heritage of Africa, a story of slavery in Africa from the stables of the Royal Kishts Theatre, Accra. The East London Guild Theatre’s Castaway is a musical that follows the riveting tale of Bessie, an orphan of the ocean who grows into a beautiful young woman, falls in love and becomes the matriarch of the abeLungu. Yes! Today I Am a Man by the Gcaleka Cultural Ensemble illustrates the preparations that boys take to become men through initiation school.

The Fringe Music programme is packed, with over 50 gigs showcasing classical music, rock, hip hop, jazz, kwaito, gospel and more. Returning favourites include Shannon Hope, Gary Thomas, Guy Buttery, Meri Kenaz, Shackles & Bones, U-diverse and Ginsburg & Herman. Tony Cox and Steve Newman play together again after 30 years in Return of the Road Warriors, and, in addition to his Main Programme appearance with Boo!, Chris Chameleon also has two solo shows at the Cuervo Music Room. Ex-Tree63 front man John Ellis brings his solo show to the Festival, and Heather Mac (ex-Elemental) returns to Grahamstown after more than a decade’s absence. Artic Jinn, Laurie Levine & Lize Wiid, The Mee Brothers and Chris Letcher all make their Grahamstown debuts and the Homegrown Music Jam Junction hosts four nights of acoustic collaborations and improvisational jams.

The Urban Lounge has been relocated to Bots Gardens and promises to be the place for good late night music and dancing. Gospel Africa will showcase some of South Africa’s best known gospel artists in two special Spiritfest performances at the Cathedral. On the contemporary classical side, there are recitals by the Piano Duo Molto (Mahler 5), Mia Pistorious, Widor du Toit and Barbara-Ann Horsfield (Reflections); orchestral concerts by the Affies Orchestra and CAFCA; and a cappella music from The Boulevard Harmonists (More Great Goosebump A Cappella), The Soil and Bishops College’s Simply Blue.

Around 60 exhibitions will also be up as part of the Fringe Visual Art showcase. There’s also the Re-imagining Creative Practice in Sustainability conference (from July 2 – 10), packed Wordfest and Spiritfest programmes, performance poetry, bus tours, art walkabouts, workshops, street theatre, free stages, crafts, buskers, street parades, a deluge of food from all quarters, and more … a lot more!

Tickets for this year’s Festival booked through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, accommodation and travel options visit Also join the National Arts Festival group on Facebook for all the latest competitions and news, or follow us on Twitter. Call 046 603 1103 for more info.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Sunday Independent and M Net.