Thrilling arts festival mix, says new producer

Ashraf Johaardien

New National Arts Festival executive producer Ashraf Johaardien has promised patrons nothing but “11 days of amazing” as he has kept to the legacy of the historic event.

Johaardien’s appointment as executive producer came after artistic director Ishmail Mahomed resigned early last year to take on the role of chief executive at the iconic Market Theatre Foundation in Johannesburg.

This year’s festival will be Johaardien’s first as executive producer.

Johaardien, a playwright and arts administrator, is no stranger to the festival, having written, performed and produced work across the event’s main, fringe and arena stages.

His first appearance at the festival was in the 1993 fringe production, Suip!

He has also headed the Arts and Culture Trust, and worked in theatres in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

With a few tweaks here and there, Johaardien said they have kept to the tradition of the festival, offering people the best productions in the country.

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

“Creative disruption has served as the backbone for building this year’s core programme – and the response has been extraordinary,” he said.

He said it has been a great experience working with the 20-member artistic committee to put together this year’s programme.

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