Today I eventually got my hands on the 258 page thick program for this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. This year the festival runs from 28 June to 8 July, and is apparently the second biggest in the world.
There are literally hundreds of shows and this year will be the third year that I will be attending, as well as performing in the festival. Now the festival is divided into the Main the Fringe programs. The spots on the main are usually commissioned by the festival, and you need to earn your place to perform there. As for the Fringe…as long as you get your entry there in time you can perform. I will be performing in the Fringe program again this year in CHASING (directed and choreographed by Nicola Haskins). But with the literally hundreds of shows performing how do you pick which to watch. Here are my recommendations for the festival. I must admit my strong bias here, but I can guarantee you will not be disappointed in my selections.
In general I tend to stick to the Fringe program. Maybe it’s because a big part of me sympathizes with artist who are trying to make it. Maybe it’s because I know what it feels like to perform to an audience smaller than your cast. At least we were warned last year that this would happen, and hopefully the Standard Bank Ovation Award we won last year (despite our first few performances playing mostly to family, friends and complementary tickets) will help fill a few more seats this year.
Naturally, I recommend Chasing. How else. I am in it after all, and I truly believe in what we do. The Award merely confirms this!
Then I have to recommend Moffie (choreographed and directed by the Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for dance, Bailey Snyman). Between my brother and myself we know half the cast of dancers. None the less, it promises to be exciting, and most likely controversial if the picture in the program is something to go by.
London Road (Nicholas Spagnoletti) is performing again, which is definite must see, and serious. From Cape Town, and back again from last year we have Mafikeng Road, which I really enjoyed, and the amazing Miskien... (who along with The Anatomy of Weather performed in the Amsterdam Fringe Festival last year).
Body Language also returns, which I really enjoyed last year. Maybe even more so because I happened to be singled out for some of the jokes. Sitting in the front row of a comedic Fringe production is not without its risks.
I have heard from trusted sources of are the comedic Big Boys Don’t Dance is well worth the watches, and from personal experience I recommend Hats (I was part of the original cast of the first version of this play which is now a two-hander).
On the dance and physical theatre scene In Stu will probably be worth your while, and then of course Mother Milk from Andrew Buckland (Well, if you see mention of Buckland’s name in Grahamstown you should definitely watch the show). Personally I was hoping to catch both Fragile and Pudique Acide/Extasis, but the chances are I won’t be there while these shows are on.
If you don't trust me, and want to make up your own mind, or simply want some more info here is the link for the program:
My final recommendation, until I have properly perused the program will be The Long Table. Where you can buy a decently priced home-made meal and probably bump into the artist of that show you enjoyed watching today. I will definitely be there myself!