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Monday, July 22, 2013


(Pauline Dalais at the Camera Obscura at the top of the Observatory Museum, looking out over Grahamstown)

artSMart Manager Pauline Dalais visits Grahamstown for the first time!

2013 was my first visit to the festival. Being active on the theatre scene and being a KZN Festival Live Wire, my attention is always drawn to it before the festival actually kicks off.

My journey to the administration department at the Monument left me awe-inspired at the dedicated and efficient team behind the scenes of a festival of this magnitude.

I made the journey by road and returned by air. The road trip was long – we went via Matatiele and Queenstown - but not as unpleasant as I expected. The roads are in drive-worthy conditions as many potholes have been repaired. Speed-bumps need to be painted so motorists are aware of them BEFORE riding on them. Motorists however, must remember to fuel up before running on empty as the fuel stations are far and wide and some don’t accept credit cards. Cellphone networks are poor during parts of the trip.

Locals en route could capitalize on the festival period offering portaloos on the roadsides, sale of light foods like boerewors rolls, cool drinks, water, tea, coffee, chips, snacks etc.

At the festival, I stayed at the De Beers res and the student rooms are tidy, equipped with a bed, warm blankets, desk, a desk light, chair, heater, wardrobe and hand basin with hot and cold water. There are clean towels daily and a well-balanced breakfast is served between 07h30 and 09h00.

To my surprise the town has many trading stores, shops and supermarkets and some food outlets do deliveries so a festival-goer does not have to stockpile food supplies to Grahamstown. The local Pick n Pay trades till 23h00. Other retailers include Spar and Checkers, Clicks, Woolworths, Truworths, Foschini and Edgars.

There are Hopper buses which run on scheduled times.

I found difficulty in locating the actual theatre venues and it might be an idea to have youngsters wearing a signpost of a venue and a pointy finger pointing to the direction of the particular theatre about half an hour before a show is to start.

The streets are too deserted at night for such a busy time, so it may be an idea for other actors to “street advertise” their plays (walk around in character handing out flyers for their production).

I was blessed with good weather during my stay so I didn’t freeze.

I am looking forward to the National Arts Festivals 40th birthday celebrations! – Pauline Dalais