Debating Fest's best

2014-06-29 15:00

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As the National Arts Festival’s official media partner, City Press is hosting a series of 13 20-minute postproduction discussions where audience members can talk and debate on key questions around some of the Fest’s best plays

Oedipus @ Koö-nú!

Based on the tragedy by Sophocles, this Greg Homann reworking is a playful ­allegory offering a subversive and satirical take on the past, present and future of South Africa.

»?Discussion: Do contemporary artists have the freedom, right and responsibility to rewrite recognised masterworks to ­interpret South African circumstances? Rhodes Theatre, Thursday, July 3, 3pm.

Fishers of Hope

Director Lara Foot teams up with ­researchers Nina Swart and Masai warrior Miyere Miyandazi to tell the story of a ­rapacious fish vendor who decides to sell her beautiful young niece.

»?Discussion: How can South African artists grow their links and their ­engagement with the African continent? Graeme College, Thursday, July 3, 8pm.

Black and Blue

Set in sheltered suburbia, Black and Blue gently observes the complexities of South Africa’s ongoing master-and-servant ­relationships.

»?Discussion: Is an exploration of South African political relations going beyond just the simplistic black-white divide, or is it still stuck in it? Rhodes Box, Friday, July 4, 6pm.

Desire Under the Elms

An update of Nobel prize-winning Eugene O’Neill’s acclaimed 19th-century play.

»?Discussion:  Is the festival shying away from telling a rich array of uniquely South African stories? Victoria Theatre, Saturday, July 5, 12pm.

On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco

A Kafka-inspired lecture from 2006 Standard Bank Young Artist winner Sylvaine Strike and 1986 Standard Bank Young Artist winner Andrew Buckland.

»?Discussion: Do arts awards nurture artists to create richer theatre, or are they just a way of ­rewarding people for the moment? Rhodes Box, Sunday, July 5, 6pm.

Cooking with Elisa

The fable by Argentinian author and poet Lucía Laragione looks at two women on an estate in the countryside as they ­prepare French delicacies for a demanding madame and monsieur.

»?Discussion:  How can South African arts institutions and festivals extend ­international collaboration beyond Europe and the US? The Hangar, Sunday, July 6, 12pm.

Marikana?–?The Musical

Meshack Mavuso and Mpho “Mckenzie” Matome lead a cast of 20 as they recount the tragedy that drew the world’s eyes to South Africa.

»?Discussion: Are South African artists rising to the challenges of engaging with the promises of 1994 and contesting the state of the nation since then? Graeme College, Monday, July 7, 2pm.

Ubu and the Truth Commission

Based on the hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on a 19th-century licentious slob called Ubu Roi.

»?Discussion: Are there undisclosed conflicts in the arts sector to an extent that there is a need for a TRC in the arts? Rhodes Theatre, Tuesday, July 8, 2.30pm.


The true story of Henrietta Lacks. In 1951, a cell sample was taken from this black woman without her permission and was used as the raw material for a few major scientific discoveries in the past 100 years.

»?Discussion: Does the solo theatre ­genre provide a greater intimacy between the artists and their audiences to explore these narratives? Rhodes Box, Wednesday, July 9, 12pm.


Set in a fictional municipal district in ­Mpumalanga, this Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom drama sharpens the focus on ­service-delivery protests in voiceless communities.

»?Discussion: Have South African artists in post-1994 become too self-absorbed, too fearful and too interested in “art for art’s sake” that they’ve become too ­complacent to protest? Graeme College, Thursday, July 10, 2pm.


One of Howard Barker’s most acclaimed plays. As invading barbarians approach the palace of a decaying culture, four princesses debate committing suicide.

»?Discussion: It has been said that ­Barker has no respect for the conventional belief that theatre is there to “say something” or that it should be a slave to the need to educate. That being so, what drives Barker as a writer? Victoria Theatre, July 11, 2pm.


This adaptation of Macbeth explores the effects of guilt and insomnia on two ­individuals who lose track of boundaries in their relationship and themselves.

»?Discussion: How can South African festivals overcome their “language-based” identities and evolve into becoming more embracing multicultural events? Rhodes Theatre, July 12, 12pm.

Kwela Bafana+

Kwela Bafana+ pays homage to the ­distinctive, vibrant music of the 1950s, an era of vivacity and bravery in the face of forced removals and apartheid’s adversity.

»?Discussion: Productions like Sophiatown have played a vital role in documenting a particular era in South Africa’s ­history. In telling these stories, have ­national histories been blurred by recreating these eras with a dose of romanticism and through particular racial gazes? ­Graeme College, July 13, 3pm.

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