national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, May 27, 2013


Cutting edge and innovative theatre directors who have made their mark on the National Arts Festival’s fringe programme are being engaged as mentors to assist Eastern Cape companies that will be at the Festival this year.

Director Tara Louise Notcutt and 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Princess Mhlongo, are the first two Creative Consultants who will spend a weeklong residency at the Port Elizabeth Opera House. Four additional directors will be announced next month.

The Creative Consultancy Project is a partnership between the National Arts Festival and the Port Elizabeth Opera House. Its two-fold objective is to give emerging companies in the Eastern Cape the opportunity to work with directors from other provinces who are young, but fast making their mark both nationally and internationally. It is also hoped that the Creative Consultants will become proactive ambassadors who will share their experiences with other artists who may have an interest in presenting work at the Port Elizabeth Opera House. The project is funded by the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts & Culture Council (ECPACC).

“This is a fascinating project. I’m delighted to be amongst first directors to be given this opportunity, and look forward to working with artists from the Eastern Cape”, said Tara Louise Notcutt. Notcutt’s 2012 production of Three Little Pigs was one of the most successful productions at the 2012 National Arts Festival. After its huge success in Grahamstown, it was invited to the Perth Fringe, the Amsterdam Fringe, the New York Fringe, the Edinburgh Festival and the Hilton Arts Festival. 

Princess Mhlongo also has a growing international profile. Last year, she was the first Black woman director from Africa to be selected for the Salzburg Festival. Her production And the Girls in their Sunday Dresses received glowing accolades when it was staged at the Edinburgh Festival in 2012. “This is an awesome initiative. Although the project is located in the Eastern Cape, the impact of bridging artists from the Eastern Cape with directors from other provinces will benefit the arts industry at a national level. It helps to break down provincial barriers that keep artists apart from each other”, said Mhlongo.

General manager of the Port Elizabeth Opera House, Monde Ngonyama, is excited about these new developments and expressed that he and his team are all geared up to welcome the first two Creative Consultants who will spend a week-long residency at the theatre.

The Port Elizabeth Opera House will stage six productions in a Showcase Season at the Festival this year. Ngonyama explained that this year’s season will set the groundwork for the next six productions and next six Creative Consultants that will be unearthed for their participation in the 2014 Festival.

Ismail Mahomed, Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival, adds: “Our commitment to growing the arts is informed by creating opportunities for artists. Peer mentorship is probably one of the most powerful ways in which to grow success and foster mutually beneficial results. The Creative Consultancy project is one of several development opportunities that we strategically devise and manage at the Festival. We are grateful to the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts & Culture Council for their vision to fund the project. In the long term, this will only benefit and develop a more competitive and sustainable creative industry in the Eastern Cape.”

The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from June 27 to July 7 2013. Click on the banner at the top of this page to link to the festival’s website.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Eastern Cape Government, Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, City Press and M Net.