The Grahamstown National Arts Festival is the largest cultural event in Africa. Since its launch in 1974 and throughout the 1980s, it served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during apartheid, and it still offers an opportunity for freedom of expression and experimentation across the arts spectrum. Each year, people from all over South Africa – and the world – flock to this charming university town for a feast of over 300 shows (on the Main Programme and The Fringe) that includes all kinds of artistic performances – form drama and cabaret to music recitals, concerts, poetry readings, opera, stand-up comedy, exhibitions, guided tours, and so much more.
Some of the performances we’re looking forward to seeing at the 2017 festival are:
- Ben Voss and John van de Ruit’s Mamba Republic, a fast-paced satirical sketch-comedy that examines all that is wrong with South Africa.
- Composer, musician and cultural activists Neo Muyanga (this year’s featured artist) explores the role of song within protests and revolts in Solid(t)ary.
- A contemporary jazz and musical lineup that includes Jimmy Nevis, Desmond and the Tutus, and Opposite the Other.
- A smorgasbord of dance recitals, including Vincent Mantsoe’s solo production KonKoriti, a re-imagining of an ancient song about pride, arrogance, physical power and selfishness.
- The comedic stylings of Stephen K Amos all the way from the UK.
- The 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist Monageng “Vice” Motshabi’s brand-new play Ankobia
- The 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, Beth Diane Armstrong’s in perpetuum which explores scale, materiality, process and change.
In between performances, enjoy some shopping at the Village Green, one of the many vibrant flea markets. The National Arts Festival Programme, which will be available on the official website, is a great resource.