Grahamstown’s 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 against 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 700 events (mostly on the Main Programme and The Fringe) that includes all kinds of artistic performances – from theatre and music recitals to 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 2018 festival are:
- The Clothes Maketh (Wo)man – a non-verbal dance production that explores the rules around clothes that shape identity, demarcate difference, enforcing and reiterating societal ideas
- Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, Igshaan Adams’ When Dust Settles – an art walkabout with the artist
- The Little Prince, directed by Mwenya Kabwe and Clara Vaughan, and starring Lesego Chabedi, Sinenhlanhla Mgeyi, and Balindile ka Ngcobo
- Udodana – an exploration of the black male body through the abstract and narrative approach to dance
- The Fun’s Not Over – a documentary about the life of the late musician James Phillips, as told in his own words, and through the voices of journalists, satirists, collaborators, friends and family
- Richard Kaplan’s Selwyn & Gabriel – a modern mystery about two strangers with secrets
- A performance by Amanda Black, winner of four 2017 SAMAs, including Best R&B Soul Reggae Album
In between performances, enjoy some shopping at the Village Green, one of the many vibrant flea markets. The National Arts Festival Programme is a great resource.