Festival opens stage to all

2015-11-11 06:00

ARE you a frustrated actor with a play burning a hole in your pocket?

Perhaps a seasoned professional drowning in corporate gigs and yearning for the magic of the stage? A wannabe, gottabe music sensation in the making, or a community group looking to take the world by storm?

Then the National Arts Festival Fringe is where you could find fame and glory in 2016.

Registration is now open for Africa’s largest open-access festival, which will take place in Grahamstown from 30 June to 10 July.

“We’re looking for actors, singers, comedians, poets, and anyone who wants to show off their talent to an appreciative and knowledgeable audience,” says Zikhona Monaheng, Fringe manager.

The festival’s website, available at www.nationalartsfestival.co.za, contains all the information, guides and application forms.

Registration is open until 15 January. For the first time, the festival is offering those who apply before 15 December this year an early-bird discount.

“The Fringe is South Africa’s only truly open platform for artists – there is no selection process and anyone who believes in their work is welcome to take part.”

Monaheng says the festival attracts artists from all over South Africa and from across our borders.

“International representation at the Fringe has grown steadily since the inception of the World Fringe Alliance, of which the National Arts Festival is a founding member.

“The alliance is responsible for bringing in producers from Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Prague, Brighton, Perth, Adelaide and New York who are looking for work to showcase at their festivals, creating scope for productions to extend their footprint beyond 11 days in Grahamstown to countrywide tours and international seasons.”

It is not easy, though, notes the festival’s artistic director, Ismail Mahomed.

“With over 400 production companies vying for the spotlight, it can be a tough couple of weeks,” says Mahomed.

“But with careful marketing, a good concept, and, above all else, a fabulous production to set tongues wagging, productions can increase their chances of success.”

Another part of the charm is the opportunities it offers artists, both those new to the game and old hands.

“The Fringe offers artists the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with fellow artists, directors and producers,” says Monaheng.

“Many a partnership has been formed over a beer at the Long Table.”

“With everyone on an equal footing on the Fringe, artists can learn from one another, swap stories, offer advice and make connections that can sometimes have a lasting effect on their professional careers.”

The National Lotteries Commission has supported the Fringe for a number of years, and its contribution helps keep access to the Fringe open and lowers the economic barrier to entry, explains Mahomed.

“Festivals in general are a great showcase opportunity for our artists, and the Grahamstown Fringe in particular plays such an important role in the careers of so many artists.

“The Lottery’s support of it is predicated on widening access and allowing as many artists as possible to take the stage.”

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