NAF18 is off to a rousing start
YOU know you’ve hit gold at the National Arts Festival when you see six back-to-back shows and there’s very little to complain about. And the word on the street is that almost every show is getting rousing applause.
The crowds on Friday started converging in full force in the city with a big heart that’s loaded with culture in every shape, way and form.
A pre-show walk and browse through the Village Green also demonstrated that there is craft aplenty from as far as Hartenbos in the Overberg, to made right here in Joza township.
On the formal stages there were highlights all round? Two time Emmy award winner Loyiso Gola returned to the Fringe with his a new show challenging all the norms we shouldn’t take for granted — politics, race, history and the more mundane issues of everyday life. It all slips out so effortlessly — satirical wit aplenty to be taken with a little pinch of salt.
Loyiso Madinga is another comedian to watch as he takes on the Guptas and others that are just their own victims of their ridiculousness. Nothing but nothing in life and South Africa in particular is left sacred. The good news is that for festival-goers you can still catch them for the rest of the weekend.
On a more serious note, Jemma Kahn’s simply brilliant The Borrow Pit is a fascinating look at two controversial artists Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon and their troubled lives and interactions with their partners who were also their muses. She cleverly and masterfully uses the ancient art of kamishibai in which painting and photographs are printed on pull out boards — a genius way of illustrating the surround action on stage.
From art to dance, Mamela Nyamza’s work is not the kind you simply take lying down. In an interview she once said her aim is not to simply entertain but to get audiences out of their comfort zones.
This year’s National Featured Artist, the acclaimed, the provocative, the incredibly talented Nyamza Friday night flighted Hatched, the sequel to Hatch, which she aired 10 years ago — a highly personal work about being a mother. Her son Amkele Mandla appears with her, drawing and rapping.
Audiences in a packed auditorium were also treated to an exquisite showcase from the Cape Dance Company called Interplay where classic and more contemporary and cutting edge dance were masterfully performed.
Mthuthuzeli November’s superbly choreographed The Rite of Passage (assisted by Lee van der Merwe) was a fine example of coordinated movement, strength and skilled dancing about the journey into adulthood which left the audience appreciatively cheering.
This was just a smattering of the 200 plus shows that were flighted Friday. Saturday and Sunday’s programme is jam-packed too.
On Saturday I am looking forward to listening to jazz ladies Zenzi Makeba Lee and Amanda Tiffin, who have spoken for years about getting together and now are finally doing it.
Zenzi is the granddaughter of Miriam Makeba and she and Tiffin have amazing credentials between the two of them and are sure to rustle up things on stage. Later on tenor sax supremo Sisonke Xonti will chill late night audiences among other musos scheduled to perform in a varied programme.
You can also get hypnotised by Dr Stef, orgo on a range of art walkabouts conducted by the artists themselves and also take in a range of kid’s shows from The Magic Jewel to Jukebox Junior, and be entranced by the classic story of The Little Princewritten by Antoine de Saint Exupery about a man taking on his inner child.