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Fantast!c National Arts Festival FRINGE 2011 PDF Print E-mail
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News/Reviews - Grahamstown Festival News

More than 350 productions, exhibitions and concerts will again provide a platform to showcase the esoteric and eccentric work of emerging and established artists from around South Africa, Africa and the world on the 2011 National Arts Festival Fringe, from 30 June to 10 July in Grahamstown.

Contemporary Dance highlights this year include:

  • The Matchbox Theatre Collectives The Anatomy of Weather, choreographed by Nicola Haskins and Bailey Snyman, with consulting choreographer PJ Sabbagha
  • Avalanche is a performance done by Orange Farm Primary School learners, from an area of high unemployment but rich in cultural activities
  • Flatfoot Dance Company’s Bhakti is a dance theatre work that explores the meeting of Eastern mystical philosophy and African contemporary dance rhythms. Dance Spectrum is an ensemble of ballet, contemporary dance, jazz and Spanish flamenco performed by talented learners from the National School of Arts Dance Department
  • GUMFUSION, by SAreal Performing Arts and Artistree, includes a new style of dance that fuses tribal belly dancing with gumboot and physical theatre
  • The Language We Cry In is a première by Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company, Rhodes University and Kingswood College. It is a collaboration between the Amaphiko Township Dance Project, choreographed by Sifiso Sikhakhane, and the Kingswood College Concert Band, conducted by Stephen Holder.
  • The Reverb Dance Company from England returns to the Festival with Spring Board
  • The Northern Dance Project brings Visions Du Mouvement
  • The Indigenous Dance line-up includes the Umngqungqo Ensemble, Maqubuthuli, Sukumani Makhosikazi, Masonwabe Traditional and Siyavuma Makhosi

On the Physical Theatre front the programme includes:

Drama highlights include:

  • Melisizwe Community Theatre with Children of the Soil, a play highlighting the plight of abandoned children. They are also bringing Torn Apart.
  • Door is a collaboration between Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company in and Jori Snell of Baba Yaga Theatre
  • Mike van Graan is back at the Festival with Is It Because I'm Jack?.
  • The Rother Swain Drama Studio brings Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys
  • Windybrow Theatre in partnership with the National Arts Council brings Modus Vivendi and Sacred Women
  • James Cairns and Taryn Bennett presents, and stars in, the première of Sie Weiss Alles
  • Umsindo Theatre projects will perform in To Be Like This Rock, written by Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Drama 2011 Neil Coppen
  • Lara Bye’s 2010 Standard Bank Ovation Award winning London Road also returns to the Festival
  • Animal Fantasy by Puppet World, Dr Pocket's Ocean Commotion and The Land Of The Cranes by Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company are a few of the productions on the Family Theatre programme, specifically catering for children and families.


The Festival Fringe is notorious for its Comedy acts, with more than 40 gigs this year.

Returning favourites include:

The Cabaret / Revue category welcomes on stage:

Musical Theatre:

Two dozen Musical Theatre productions combine the best acting, dancing and singing talent for the Fringe stages. A few highlights to note include:

  • Scenes from Soweto by Soyikwa Theatre Company, a descriptive performance that takes the audience through the ins and outs of the life of Sowetans
  • Re - Alignment 1 by Sibikwa Art Centre is an innovative inter-active musical experience. A ten piece African Indigenous Orchestra uses traditional instruments combined with saxophone and double bass to create a new sound for the 21st century
  • Guild Theatre’s The Castaway is a musical that follows the riveting tale of Bessie, an orphan of the ocean who grows into a beautiful young woman, falls in love and becomes the matriarch of the abeLungu
  • Yes! Today I Am A Man by the Gcaleka Cultural Ensemble illustrates the preparations that boys take to become men through initiation school

Music Gigs:

The Fringe Music programme is packed, with over 50 gigs showcasing from classical to rock to jazz. Favourites returning are:

In addition to his Main Programme appearance with Boo!, Chris Chameleon has two shows on the Fringe as well. Ex-Tree63 front man John Ellis also brings his solo offering to the Festival. More Great Goosebump A Cappella, The Soil and Simply Blue highlight the growing popularity of a capella groups, probably also stirred on by the popular national universities’ serenade competitions. Gospel Africa brings to the Festival leading artists in performances of Gospel music, which is the biggest selling music genre in South Africa today.

Around 60 exhibitions will also be up as part of the Fringe Visual Art showcase.

There’s also the Re-imagining Creative Practice in Sustainability conference (from 2 – 10 July), performance poetry, bus tours, open mike, art walkabouts, workshops, street theatre, free stages, crafts, buskers, street parades, a deluge of food from all quarters, and more … a lot more!

In addition to the productions on the Fringe programme, the National Arts Festival effectively runs seven festivals within the Festival. These include the Main programme, the Arena programme (which this year will feature productions by some of the winners of last year’s Standard Bank Fringe Ovation Award), Think!Fest with its provocative and engaging conversations and debates, the Student Theatre programme showcasing work from the country’s leading university drama departments, and the Standard Bank Jazz Festival. Spiritfest and Wordfest also run alongside the National Arts Festival programme.

Bookings for this year’s “11 Days of Amaz!ng” are open. Tickets are available through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, accommodation and travel options visit Also join the National Arts Festival group on Facebook for all the latest competitions and news, or follow us on Twitter. Call 046 603 1103 for more info.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Sunday Independent and M Net.

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