‘Expect the unexpected’

Details of the main programme at this year’s National Arts Festival have been released and the organisers say visitors can “expect the unexpected”.

The NAF will be held in Grahamstown from June 29 to July 9 and feature some of the best productions from South Africa’s artists, theatre makers and musicians.

“Creative disruption has served as the backbone for building this year’s core programme – and the response has been extraordinary,” said National Arts Festival Executive Producer Ashraf Johaardien, who has been working with the 20-member Artistic Committee to put together this year’s programme.

Featuring new works from theatrical firebrands alongside festival favourites such as the gala concert, presented this year by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, he said visitors could expect a thrilling mix of the new and familiar in a programme that both reflects and challenges South African society.

The festival is made up of a number of programmes and events, including the curated Main; the open-access Fringe; and the Arena, which gives award-winning works a platform at the continent’s biggest cultural event.

“A number of the works selected for the Main programme refuse to sit quietly in any one genre – and that will be the first clue that something is in flux,” Johaardien said.

“Multi-sensory, immersive works that cut across disciplines signal a desire by the artists to engage audiences in new and unconventional ways.

“Other works will disrupt dominant historical narratives by offering new lenses for looking at the past and reclaiming stories previously relegated to the margins.”

In a Festival-first this year, a number of popular shows will open for pre-booking this month (details will be on the National Arts Festival social media channels).

National Arts Festival chief executive officer Tony Lankester said: “Despite a tough arts funding environment, the programme we’re able to offer still represents the cutting edge of performance excellence in South Africa.

“Our artists, institutions and producers are doing amazing things in every corner of the country, and the programme that Ashraf and the committee have shaped, will once again be a celebration of the best of this.”

The full programme will be available online when bookings open early next month at www.nationalartsfestival.co.za.

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