National Arts Festival runs at full capacity undeterred by loadshedding

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Performers in Afrika Sings by the Sonwa Sakuba Institute at the 2022 National Arts Festival. (Photo: Mark Wessels)
Performers in Afrika Sings by the Sonwa Sakuba Institute at the 2022 National Arts Festival. (Photo: Mark Wessels)

EVENT: The National Arts Festival

The National Arts Festival kicked off with jubilation as the government lifted the Covid-19 restrictions and venues were able to be filled to full capacity once again.

Even the latest loadshedding disaster couldn’t dampen the mood at the festival hub, the Monument, where generators kept the lights on.

According to a statement released by the festival on Tuesday, 900 exuberant fans packed the Guy Butler Theatre for a once-off Ringo Madlingozi concert on Saturday 25 June. Previously capped at 50% capacity, the show sold an additional 400 tickets in less than 24 hours when venue capacity restrictions were lifted.  

2021 Standard Bank Visual Artist, Buhlebezwe Siwani, opened her three exhibitions inspired by the artist's deep relationship with the natural world and Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art, Gavin Krastin, opened his work 12 Labours; an insightful exploration of contemporary definitions of the heroic.

Cara Stacey, the Standard Bank Young Artist for Music, performed her piece Transbordamento with esteemed Mozambican musician Matchume Zango. 

Other hit works included Bloke and His American Bantu, penned by Siphiwo Mahala and directed by Sello Maake kaNcube; the play studies the long-distance friendship of writers Langston Hughes and Bloke Modisani.

Zip-Zap Circus' Moya was a treat for families and audiences got to laugh without a mask with the return of the Very Big Comedy Show with a line-up that included Kagiso 'KG' Mokgadi, Stuart Taylor, Rob van Vuuren, Kate Pinchuck and more. 

Festival CEO, Monica Newton, said the Festival was very pleased with the initial turnout, "It was difficult to know what to expect after a two year hiatus, but it's evident that arts lovers were ready to get back into theatres and galleries and the arts community couldn't be more happy to be back on stage with a live audience. Everyone is feeling positive that the arts will thrive again."

Tethered Storylin
Usha Seejarim's work Tethered Storyline at the National Arts Festival. (Photo: Mark Wessels)

ALSO READ: National Arts Festival makes joyful live return as Covid-19 restrictions are scrapped

A full programme lies ahead with anticipated shows including singer Amanda Black, the Eastern Cape Philharmonic and Cape Town Opera, Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance, Kristi-Leigh Gresse's Purgatory - A Working Title and Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Thando Doni performing his work Ngqawuse. 

SBYA for Jazz, Vuma Levin, will also perform at the National Jazz Festival alongside a host of international jazz musicians. The weekend will also see more acrobatic circus acts from Urban Circus and captivating works from international artists Clara Delorme (Switzerland) and Criminal Tribes Act Extended (a work that forms part of the multinational collaborative Portals Next series).

The Fringe is packed with excellent shows across all genres including comedy, visual arts, music, theatre, dance and more; with Standard Bank Ovation Awards being handed to outstanding works that emerge from the Fringe.

Artists will be on stage exercising their creative right to express their work and audiences will be celebrating their freedom and enjoyment as the National Arts Festival brings the arts home.

The National Arts Festival is on until 3 July 2022. The programme and ticket bookings are available online.

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