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Sunday, January 21, 2018


(Zandile Tshapha & Mary Aphane in a moment from “Dudlu Dadlaza”)
(Pic by Roel Twijnstra)

A fun, interesting and entertaining programme of different presentations. Thank you, Fresha! (Review by Caroline Smart) 

The Fresha Festival of free fun family al-fresco theatre has its last presentation today (January 21) on Durban’s North Beach. 

Fresha Fest was hosted for the first time last year as the new incarnation of the Musho! Festival. It offers a hip and happening street / beach open-air festival to wrap up the Durban summer holiday season. 

The Fresha Festival is directed by Emma Durden, supported by Roel Twijnstra and is presented by Twist Theatre Development Projects which focuses on the development of community theatre groups in KwaZulu-Natal, and on creating sustainable relationships and networks for theatre development, both locally and abroad. 

Yesterday and today started with a free, open dance class with the Movement Lab; followed by a free open street theatre class led by Netherlands street artist, Gerard Oldthaar (Gerald O). From 13h00 today, there are no less than eight performance pieces of approximately 15 minutes each, running up to the Sundowner Showcase by the Monday Big Band led by George Mari. 

I headed for Fresha yesterday around 13h30 so missed the performance art by doung Anwar Jahangeer of Seeking Asylum but picked up with Gerard O and his street comedy piece. This saw him as a school crossing guard with a tiny lollipop, laying down five strips of white fabric to represent a zebra crossing. He stopped people walking along the promenade telling them they had to use the crossing. This caused much hilarity from both audience and participants. 

Next followed Abafana Bizarre from the Wushwini Arts Centre – four energetic young men in gumboots who did an impressive range of what they described as a bizarre and risque take on the traditional gumboot dance. Their obvious enjoyment of their work which incorporated much infectious humour was a lot of fun. 

Coming Home (Street Theatre from Pietermaritzburg) saw an area roped off and a number of chairs placed at the back. A well-dressed gentleman (Sbusiso Ntsalaze) invites young ladies from the audience to sit. He chooses one, gives her flowers and goes on bended knee to offer a marriage proposal. Then he decides to cook her something but as he sets fire to the pot, he is pounced on by the security guard (Dumisani Khubeka) who makes him put out the fire. He also shows interest in the young lady and a tussle ensues! 

The Kitchen Symphony is a new collaboration by Clinton Marius and Bongani Mbatha, the latter appearing as an officious sergeant major (complete with strainer on his head and carrying a soup ladle). He is in charge of a raggle-taggle force armed with saucepans, lids and even a cheese grater. A clever percussion piece delightful in its rhythmic fun. 

Fragile is a dance piece created by Kristi-Leigh Gresse inspired by British philosopher Alan Wilson whose arresting voice forms a backing to some of the sequences along with discordant music. Dressed in black with a wedding veil and surrounded by sunflowers wrapped with ribbons, she asks the question “Who says you’re supposed to survive?” An impressive movement piece which engages with the fragility of human existence and how this is not our life to live indefinitely and to die is not a terrible thing. 

Stilts in the Street is a highly amusing piece featuring Gerard O and Amos Kamanda. It deals with what can happen when a stilt walker (Kamanda) meets a street comedian (Gerard O). Amid all the whacky fool-around movement nonsense, it is easy for forget that Kamanda is on stilts, he is so skilled with his performance. Gerard O’s deadpan expressions add to the humour!

The final theatre piece of the afternoon is Dudlu Dadlaza created by this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Dance, Musa Hlatshwayo, and The Movement Lab. The production won an Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and justifiably so. It’s described as a metaphorical journey of two young black women who navigate their identity in a society where political ideologies impose standards and expectations around these. Excellent performances from both dancers as the older one coaches the younger. 

The evening winds up with top class jazz from the Monday Big Band led by George Mari and featuring Debbie Mari as vocalist. 

The promenade has a constant stream of people walking, roller skating/boarding or cycling. Many stopped to watch and stayed for the rest of the programme. 

Twist is funded by The National Lotteries Commission and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Additional funding for Fresha has also been provided by eThekwini Municipality and the Department of Arts and Culture, KZN. 

For more information, visit / or email Find Fresha Festival on facebook and @freshafest on twitter. 

Best way to spend your Sunday – and it’s free! The event takes place on North Beach (look out for the tent), directly opposite the North Beach Tourism Office. A fun, interesting and entertaining programme of different presentations. Thank you, Fresha! – Caroline Smart