Chill brings out the warmth in National Arts Festival

Festival Diary, by Brett Adkins

OKAY, it’s official. This is the coldest (and probably wettest) National Arts Festival anyone around can remember. Even media spokesperson Gilly Hemphill says so – and she should know, she’s attended quite a few. But that’s not to say it’s not fun. In fact, in Grahamstown at this time of year, the colder it is outside, you can bet the warmer it is inside – and it’s a law which has proven to be true time over.

Every venue, restaurant or pub you go to is all the cosier and jam-packed because festinos certainly are not going to freeze their socks off out in the streets.

But seriously, some really scintillating stuff coming out of this year’s fest. It was expected to make an impression, but “Benchmarks” which opened yesterday, blew quite a few people (myself included) away.

It is truly innovative drama that pushes the discipline into new territory and a spontaneous standing ovation after the opening performance said it all.

Theatre like this doesn’t come along very often so don’t miss the opportunity to see it with performances today and tomorrow. You can catch my full review in today’s edition of The Herald.

Something very different last night was dance production “Lovaffair” from the Baxter Theatre Centre – striking and powerful if somewhat jarring here and there and laboured, but read all about that tomorrow.

All right, let’s see what’s up today on the Main programme, In addition to Lovaffair at Rhodes Theatre at midday and 6.30pm another well-rated dance production is Batsumi at Alec Mullins at 2pm and 6.30pm.

On the theatre front as I’ve mentioned there’s Benchmarks at Graeme College at 4pm and 8pm and The History Boys at Victoria Theatre at 2pm – when I’ll be checking it out – and 6.30pm.

On the music scene catch homegrown Rhythms of the Eastern Cape at the Ilam Amphitheatre at 1pm while public art performance Tshini Kwedini is at the Drostdy Arch at 1pm.

Last chance to also soak up great jazz with Quattro Fusion at DSG Hall at 5pm while the Tutu Puoane Quartet perform at the same venue at 7.30pm.

By the way, for the early birds, Think!fest has Clem Sunter chatting about “A Sustainable Future” at the Blue Lecture Theatre at 10am.

And here are some other Arena and Fringe highlights today:


Music: Nibs van der Spuy (Cuervo Music Room at 2pm)

Dance: The Public Oscillation (PJ’s at midday and 9pm); Fuse (PJ’s at 3pm)

Theatre: Convincing Carlos (The Hangar at 11am and 4pm); The Butcher Brothers (The Hangar at 2pm and 9.30pm); …miskien (Princess Alice Hall at 6pm); Shooting (B2 Arena at midday and 9pm)

Physical Theatre: Inua (The Hangar at 8pm)


Drama: Mouche (Masonic Front at 6pm); Eclipsed (Gymnasium at 8pm)

Family Theatre: The Land of the Cranes (Memory Hall at 2pm);Isangqa/Sirkelpad (Princess Alice at 4pm)

Comedy: Dysfunctional (OBs Scout Hall at 4pm); Durban Comedy Invasion (Bowling Club at midday and 10pm); Rocket Raiders (Kingswood at 10am)

Music: Shannon Hope (Graham Hotel at midday); Acoustic Liquid (Cuervo Music Room at midday); The Best of Durban Hip Hop (Bots’ Urban Lounge at 4pm)

Indigenous Dance: Mohobelo Traditional Dance (Recreation Centre at 6pm)

Contemporary Dance: Visions Du Mouvement (Centenary Hall at 10pm)

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