By DAVID MACGREGOR After more than 40 years on the fringe of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, dagga finally stepped out of the shadows and into the mainstream. Usually whispered about in hushed tones and smoked in dark corners, pot...
By BARBARA HOLLANDS Cherae Halley had an inkling drama would be central to her life when she petitioned her primary school to provide extra-curricular drama classes, but her goal was crystallised after her father, late deputy mayor of East London,...
Animal farm received more than audience applause. It got statement applause. The packed Rhodes Theatre rose up with a collective shout of approval as the all-women cast took their final bow. Author George Orwell was a fierce critic of the abuse...
Abongele Manka’s debut theatre production brings to life the Bible scripture from which the title of her play is taken. Women, Thou Art Loosed, on at the National Arts Festival, is based on an excerpt from the Bible (Luke 13:12)...
The Eastern Cape music landscape is changing and judging by the talent that has so far been showcased at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year, there are exciting times ahead. One such talent is musician – and vocal...
BY POLISWA PLAATJIE The much celebrated Xhosa story Ityala La Mawele will come to life at the National Arts Festival next week. The production is one of six that the well-known ArtsCape is bringing to the festival. ArtsCape creative manager Mandla Mbothwe...
By MIKE LOEWE Shocked theatregoers watched performance artist Gavin Krastin standing naked and vulnerable, but for a strip of tape over his privates, and clamp more than 10 clothes pegs to his lips. He finally snapped a small mousetrap on his...
By ANN KNIGHT The stage is set as a small village somewhere in the Karoo. The story – violent and sad – portrays the village’s personalities through the amazing acting from four men and two women. First premiered in 2007, it has...
By ZIPO-ZENKOSI NCOKAZI There are very few artists able to balance staying true to their art yet able to appeal to a wide cross section of the public – this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz winner Siya Makuzeni...
By MIKE LOEWE Dramatising the life of ANC hero Albertina Sisulu was always going to be a difficult process involving hard choices, but director Warona Seane and team have presented a work which avoids a lectorial discourse on liberation politics...
By DAVID MACGREGOR A talented rural artist has been given a lifeline to explore his craft by the son of a famous South African abstract painter. Eighteen months ago, Mziwoxolo “Mzi” Makalima was contemplating moving back home to Gqobonco village near...
By MIKE LOEWE Art has the power to influence South African society in the current time of immoral and corrupt politics.  Artists are once again using culture as a weapon, as they did during anti-apartheid protest theatre years, to defend democracy...
By MIKE LOEWE How nice people do despicably cruel things has become a cliche in South Africa, but Fiona Ramsay’s phenomenal performance in Blonde Poison goes a long way to answering that question. Her delivery is seamless, her pace and pitch...
By MIKE LOEWE It is  fitting to celebrate the story of one of Fort Hare University’s most illustrious literary alumni and one of South Africa’s greatest journalists, Can Themba, with a massive script from Siphiwo Mahala in The House of...
By DAVID MACGREGOR Last year’s xenophobic attacks in Grahamstown have inspired an award-winning National Arts Festival collaboration between an acclaimed township theatre company and a university master’s student. Using unemployed local actors from the Uyabona Ke company, Falling Off the Horn...
By MIKE LOEWE We meet Bessie Head as a crazy-wild coloured aunty in an African print dress in an African airport transition hall throwing her stuff around, as she anxiously tries to strike a light for her smoke. Head, strongly played...
By GILLIAN McAINSH Mohau Modisakeng is the 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art – and what a relevant choice in view of civic protests around the country, black-white relations on a knife-edge and an election next month. The multidisciplinary...
By MIKE LOEWE The National Arts Festival hits midweek today amid praise from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) but a lingering water crisis has put a question mark on future festivals. CEO Tony Lankester, addressing the media as...
By GILLIAN McAINSH Six Inches by Kristy Suttner and Diaan Lawrenson, Vicky’s, today until July 9. This Fringe comedy returns to the festival with three sassy actresses in the shape of Bongile Lecoge-Zulu, Dikelo Mamiala and Caitlin Clerk, playing a group...
By ZIPO-ZENKOSI NCOKAZI Jazz lovers were left begging for more after being wowed by some of the Eastern Cape’s finest afro pop musicians at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The Dakawa Jazz Series is an annual showcase of the province’s jazz...
By NOMPILO NDLOVU A big change on the National Arts Festival program this year is the injection of more South African contemporary music. This year’s Festival Artistic Committee have shaken things up to bring you a fresh new line-up. South Africa’s music industry...
By NIGEL VERMAAS You are at the National Arts Festival and you may not know your Fringe from your Arena or your Main Stage from your Physical Theatre. But best‚ maybe‚ to ditch the programme categories and simply go for...
A production celebrating the coronation of Xhosa King Zwelonke Sigcawu is among the shows being performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. My People, My Church focuses on the king and Xhosa nation at large. It features artists from Mbhashe...
The host of elements making up the 42nd Grahamstown arts festival is coming into alignment in time for its launch next week. The budget of the 12-day National Arts Festival (NAF) is R32-million but it usually infuses about R350-million into...
It was a life-long dream to produce a play about South Africa’s rich history that motivated producer Jenine Collocott to write Making Mandela. After received funding in 2009, Collocott and her team set about researching local history in the hopes of...
Over  the past few years, family theatre at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown has gained ground and this year festinos can expect another exciting programme from the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (Assitej) SA. On...
You don’t really need wings to fly, or in this case, legs to dance. Dance companies Artscape and Unmute Dance Company broke down those perceptions at the National Arts Festival yesterday with their novel integrated dance number, Unmute, which features three disabled...
The centuries-old art of Xhosa storytelling has been brought alive by two new plays making their début at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year – both with an exciting new twist of using puppets. Armed with miniature sets...
They may come from a poor Eastern Cape village but this is not stopping talented Hamburg artists from flying high at the Arts Fest in Grahamstown. After six months of collecting local stories about birds and their traditional Xhosa meanings...
The National Arts Festival swings into a first big weekend of action with three sold out shows for Irish international comedian Dylan Moran. There’s also heaps of jazz featuring Stirling High-schooled star drummer Kesivan Naidoo rolling up a storm together...
Well-known performing arts centre, Artscape, as usual brings world-class productions to this year’s National Arts Festival. The festival, which starts today, celebrates various facets of the arts and sees thousands from around the world gathering to perform or watch the...
The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown was recognised around the world as an expression of the freedom enshrined in the South African constitution, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle told hundreds of cheering, whistling festinos as he officially opened the...
Standard Bank young jazz and blues pianist Nduduzo Makhatini shook the floorboards and blew the minds of fans at his Listening to the Ground show on Saturday night. The air was cold, but the festival pumped with fresh art, comedy, theatre, dance,...
A Globe-trotting pavement minstrel is up in arms over “noise” from a mobile radio studio drowning out his pavement saxophone sessions at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Jonathan Townsend, 63, blew his top yesterday when he arrived at his...
Ankobia, the most eagerly awaited play by 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist award winner for theatre, Monageng “Vice” Motshabi, opened at the festival on Friday. Motshabi, 35, interviewed soon after he arrived in Grahamstown where symbols and statues recalling white...
You could see on his face that south London comedian Steven K Amos could not quite believe how receptive his South African audience at the National Arts Festival was to his abrasive attack on sacred SA cows.   So he gave...
The much-enjoyed Village Green craft, arts and food market will get a new, bigger home next year, National Arts Festival CEO Tony Lankester has announced. The 300 traders at the Rhodes University sports fields would next year set up shop...
Tableaux in Red: Oil on Canvas 1976 by the Selborne College drama society has been a hit with the crowds at the National Arts Festival. The play brings a fresh and thoughtful way to excavate the nation’s painful history,...
Last year’s Idols SA winner Noma Khumalo left her fans begging for more at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at the weekend. The songstress, who made her debut at the annual festival proved why South Africans fell in love...
Thought-provoking funny-man Tats Nkonzo had comedy- lovers in stitches at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this week with his A South African Comedy Story: Tats Nkonzo is Privileged show. Mdantsane-born Nkonzo, whose real name is Mthawelanga, kept the audience...
A young married pastor sleeps with the “Queen of darkness”, then his daughter in a desperate attempt to increase membership of his congregation that is declining drastically. Free Souls is a theatre production by the Walter Sisulu University’s Ibika campus...
From world-class dance productions to award-winning music stars, patrons of the National Arts Festival (Naf) can expect the unexpected at this year’s fest. The programme features new works from theatrical firebrands alongside festival favorites such as the gala concert, presented...
The Eastern Cape Home of Legends exhibition is on display at the Albany Museum for the duration of the National Arts Festival, showcasing an array of artworks by artists from the province. Emerging and established Eastern Cape artists have been...
Next week sees the second annual East London Arts and Culture Festival – the Umtiza Arts Festival – named after an indigenous tree the umtiza listerana found only in this part of the country. Guild Theatre manager, Zane Flanagan, has...
Fire House is the play out of hundreds here at the National Arts Festival which should come to East London. I have investigated and reported on the declining conditions of the Buffalo City Metro (BCM) fire department over the past...
A dramatic, all-female, King William’s Town play will take to the stage at this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown to tell a story of five women tied together by their individual experiences of abuse. The five-cast member production, titled...
Men are getting a bad rap with #Menaretrash, but two festival works have dived into masculinity and come up with different angles on the gender. Macho Macho, a physical dance essay out of Amsterdam, Netherlands, starts out as eye candy....
Performance artists put their bodies on the line to express deep, complex issues, often about wounds. On stage, this can be wounding for both the artist and the audience. And in contemporary South Africa it’s great. National Arts Festival-goers who seek...
The last weekend of the National Arts Festival is here, marking the end of another remarkable experience for business owners and culture lovers. Grahamstown has been a hub of activity for masses of festinoes who trekked from far and wide...
The small space of Saint’s Bistro Café became even more intimate when about 100 people braved the cold in Grahamstown on Friday night to watch husband and wife team Zenzi Makeba-Lee and Afrika Mkhize perform. The granddaughter of the late...