national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, June 16, 2014


Through the newly-restructured Professional Development Programme funded by Nedbank Arts Affinity, the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) is proud to be supporting projects in their appearance at the National Arts Festival, which takes place from July 3 to 13, 2014, in the Eastern Cape city of Grahamstown.

Well Worn, Jungle and Seka Theatre Companies will present an outdoor physical theatre production in the Botanical Gardens. Directed by Kyla Davis, The Baobab - a new, site-responsive African eco-play, explores the rich (yet threatened) cultural and ecological heritage of the isiVenda people and their land. The project will run alongside the Re-Imagining programme at Rhodes Environmental Learning Research Centre.

Looking at the South African environment and social contexts from a different perspective, The Man In The Green Jacket was written as a response to the Marikana massacre. Created and developed by Eliot Moleba in collaboration with Drama for Life, this is “An emotionally charged play that subtly, yet effectively captures the daily experience of generations of mining families” according to Shehnaz Munshi. Questioning whether there can be growth through tragedy, the play also poses questions about our responsibility, as a society, in its aftermath.

The National School of the Arts will once again be showcasing their top talent in their production of Dance Spectrum. Some 30 learners will take part in the production. It comprises a dance spectacular featuring classical, Spanish, African and contemporary dance; and extracts from the school's acclaimed production of the Broadway hit musical Sweet Charity.

BOK is a new contemporary dance work that filters Vaslav Nijinsky’s iconic ballet Afternoon of a Faun through the lens of contemporary South Africa. BOK explores the fluidity between animal and human, the ugly and the beautiful. “It is inspiring to be recognised by ACT as an emerging and important new voice in South African theatre”, says choreographer Steven van Wyk, of Underground Dance Theatre.” He elaborates “Vaslav Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun is an important historical landmark that, in 1912, stood for progress and provocation, challenging notions of what is dance and what is beautiful. BOK asks the same questions in a different context,” adding that ACT's grant allows him to develop a high-quality, full-length South African ballet by collaborating with the dancers, costume designer and composer that he could only ever have dreamed about.

From performance to installation; Bridget Baker’s is the artist behind A Temporary Admission on the Visual Art Programme. Curated by the inimitable Storm Janse van Rensburg, this work is situated at the intersection of documentary and myth making, forming a series of complex visual fragments realised through film making, installation and documented re-stagings. Jetty SCOUR – an art film, created with the support of the Arts and Culture Trust, will be projected as part of this installation – a documentation through imaginative re-enactment, of the arrival of the “human-transporter”, a replicated 19th century cane-woven lift used in Algoa Bay to transport settlers to and from ships at sea.

Debra Batzofin, a seasoned theatre manager and administrator with 40 years’ experience in the South African and international entertainment industry, has written an indispensable guide to operating a venue. Titled Ask Miss B: A Beginner’s Guide to Running a Theatre, this industry handbook concisely sets out all you need to know about managing a theatre. From legalities and labour issues to the nuts and bolts of dealing with outside producers, Batzofin covers it all. Far from being a staid handbook, it includes useful practical examples supplemented by friendly advice drawn from her many years of working in all aspects of the performing arts. Ask Miss B is an essential tool to help newcomers (and even professionals) navigate the minefield of theatre management with success and confidence. With the support of Tsogo Sun, Splitbeam and DWR Distribution, every university student participating in the 2014 Student Theatre Festival at the National Arts Festival will receive a complimentary copy.

For travellers making the ‘trek’ to the Festival, The Platteland Preview Festival In Smithfield, Free State, serves as a Halfway House for artists and their productions or exhibitions on the way their way to Grahamstown. The aim is to showcase and promote visual and performing arts in the central rural part of South Africa. Half-way between Gauteng and Grahamstown, Smithfield is ideally located for such a project especially as it serves an area where most people have little exposure to the arts.

“At this auspicious time in our own history as an organisation, which mirrors the equivalent anniversary of our country’s democracy, it’s wonderful to be able to support artists in the production of works across a number of genres, in their presentation on this significant national platform,” says ACT CEO Pieter Jacobs.

Bookings for the National Arts Festival can be made via or 0860 002 004. For more information on these individual projects, and how to apply for funding, see ACT’s website,