Smaller fest big on heart

Dancers and performing groups showcased their talents as part of the parade.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes
Dancers and performing groups showcased their talents as part of the parade.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Far South residents, eager to once again celebrate Muizenberg and the arts, were glad of the Muizenberg Festival held last weekend.

Now in its seventh year, the festival took place from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 November. It encompassed a range of events, from talks to theatre productions.

This year, things were done a little differently as a result of Covid-19 but, despite reduced numbers, the show just had to go on.

Fergus Turner, a worker bee at The Hive cultural centre which aims to build community through the arts, says this year’s festival was especially important to promote unity during these difficult times.

He explained: “We put out a call to our networks and in the callout, we made it very clear that we recognise great value in keeping the initiative alive. And so, whatever we can do, whether online or small numbers, it’s still important.”

While they were nervous about the logistics of the festival, Turner said: “The overwhelming opinion (received after putting their feelers out) is that people are feeling exhausted, people are feeling disconnected, and people want to celebrate and reconnect with what we like to feel is our home. We still want to come together around what we celebrate and what we love – responsibly.”

Aside from the performances held at the Masque Theatre, most of the 12 to 20 events were held outdoors and in gardens to allow for social distancing. Even though the number of events was almost half of the up to 45 usually held in previous years, the idea to reconnect people with mostly free arts events was too important to simply give up on, organisers say.

“Even though this year has been challenging because of Covid-19, we’ve tried to keep things going online and through WhatsApp groups,” said Miranda Tait, manager at the Jungle Theatre Company (JTC). “The Muizenberg Festival happens every year, usually in October but we’ve just delayed it to November this time around.”

JTC assists the festival organiser, The Hive, each year to put together the string of activities, shows, tours and more. The annual parade was also down-sized slightly, having taken place around the Zandvlei water body as opposed to the usual route.

Tait explains: “Normally, we go through the streets of Muizenberg but, at the moment, because of permits, costs and Covid-19, we decided to rather do it by the vlei.”

Tait said the JTC events at the Masque were important for the children because they base all their theatre on African folk tales. And so, with all Covid-19 protocols observed, young people took to the stage. “There were new stories and they relate to the kids with regards to culture and use of language. They (children) can really identify and connect with the stories which often bring up certain issues they’re experiencing in their communities as well. Things come up like poverty and bullying, and we can discuss them in the groups.”

Turner added that the festival gave artists and performers a platform, some for the first time since lockdown began at the end of March, to practice their art.

Building the arts remains a priority for organisers. They encourage the public to join their programmes.

  • Artists in need of space can visit The Hive at 15 Church Street. For the Jungle Theatre Company, visit www.jungletheatre.co.za.

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