Arts Festival promises fun for all

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

The Grahamstown National Arts Festival will this year feature creative, innovate local and world-class acts.

These will include two docu-dramas: Cissie and Biko: Where the Soul Resides, written and directed by Nadia Davids and Martin Koboekae respectively.

Presented by The Baxter Theatre, Davids' engrossing piece dramatises her years of research into the life and times of Cissie Gool (1897-1963) - one of the most influential and well-loved women of the District Six era.

In Biko, Koboekae offers an intimate reading of the man behind the icon. Utlwanang Theatre presents the piece in association with the State Theatre.

Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner Jaco Bouwer will direct a new work by Saartjie Botha, tellingly titled Untitled.

In contrast, Paul Slabolepszy's For Your Ears Only is all about words. Directed by Ralph Lawson and presented by SAfm, For YourEars Only takes audiences into a radio-recording studio to share in hilarious palaver.

More laughter is assured when the curtain goes up in Australia vs South Africa, a rugby comedy/drama featuring Ellis Pearson, Bheki Mkwane and Australians Tom Lycos and Stefo Nantsou. Presented by Sue Clarence Promotions, it's fast-paced and very funny, skidding to a conclusion as tough as a punch in the solar plexus.

Canadian Kristen Thomson's charmingly funny and poignant I, Claudia is brought to the festival stage by actress Susan Danford and director Lara Bye.

Tshepo, protagonist of The Quiet Violence of Dreams, is a 20-something graduate at peril in the social melting pot of contemporary Cape Town.

Directed by Neville Engelbrecht, Ashraf Johaardien's theatre adaptation of K Sello Duiker's award-winning novel engages boldly with sexual and psychological taboos.

Village life in Ten Bush is fraught with hazards as love, betrayal and revenge set a traditional community on course for murder and human sacrifice. This new Market Theatre production by Craig Higginson and Mncedisi Shabangu is directed by Shabangu.

In Michael Wentworth's Waiting, actor Phillip Tindisa and multi-instrumentalist Hilton Schilder use drama and music to tell Jimmy Grootboom's story. Fate has it in for this South African "Everyman", but he never loses hope that things will improve. Directed by Itumeleng Motsikoe, Waiting is presented by '69 Productions in collaboration with The State Theatre.

Impisi, scripted by Ellis Pearson and Clive Essame and performed by Ellis and Sdumo Mtshali, uses animal characters to highlight the problems of being different and calls for tolerance.

Basil Mills' after-dark spectacle The Flight of the Lightning Bird - Impundulu uses fire, water, light, music and dance to retell stories of Africa's sky and water spirits.

At The Studio, three hard-hitting pieces speak straight from the hearts of the Eastern Cape's young theatre makers.

The festival promises lots of entertainment for all.