Grahamstown arts festival 2012

2012-07-03 00:00

YOU don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Take a simple walk around the Village Green and you’ll soon find yourself caught up in moments of creative magic.

You may encounter a giant puppet with a spring in his step and a desire to dance and chat to those enjoying the festival vibe. Or follow the sounds of music and you may find yourself transported to a different place and time … no longer are you in Grahamstown. Instead you find yourself in the bushveld watching as men hunt and women wait patiently to learn if they have been successful.

You could even find yourself entranced as you watch a master craftsman at work, creating stone carvings, metal sculptures or exquisite beadwork. And if you love to browse, there are plenty of stalls to entice — their wares of beads, clothing, rugs, hats, paintings competing for your attention.

But it’s not simply the Village Green where you’ll find entertainment. Take a walk along the High Street or down Somerset Street and you’ll soon find children with white painted faces and props ranging from wigs and masks to hats and canes standing absolutely still until a donation of money, dropped in their bowl, brings them to life.

Or you could plant a tree after one of Lunchbox Theatre’s free shows, which include song, dance, interactive storytelling and the chance to plant a tree; or be serenaded by drag queen, Scary Mary, and her sidekick, Durban stand-up comedian Gareth Woods, busking to drum up business for their shows and those of other comics at the Scout Hall.

And if the hustle and bustle gets too much and you need to escape the streets and markets, simply visit one of the many art exhibitions to be found in the town.

Richmond resident Cedric Nunn’s “Call and Response” exhibition gives a moving black-and-white glimpse into life during the conflict of the 1980s and its effects on the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

Another highlight is the exhibition devoted to the life of political veteran Ahmed Kathrada, which provides a moving personal glimpse of the real “Kathy”, focusing on his sense of humour and love of food. Movingly, you also get to see some of Kathrada’s artefacts and letters from his incarceration on Robben Island.

The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown runs until July 8.

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