Thought Provoking Treasures for National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

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On the eve of the National Arts Festival’s 40th anniversary, the Festival programme continues to push boundaries, and presents a thought-provoking line-up in Grahamstown, from the 27 June to 7 July 2013.

As always, the backbone of the main programme is comprised of the work of the Standard Bank Young Artists. The first ever Young Artist for Performance Art, Anthea Moys, presents a series of contests entitled Anthea Moys vs the City of Grahamstown. Young Artist for Dance Fana Tshabalala’s engagement with cleansing ceremonies is explored in his new work titled Indumba. Young Artists for Theatre (Prince Lamla) and Visual Arts (Mary Sibande), use historical incidents as the points of departure for their offerings – Asinamali and The purple shall govern, respectively; with SBYA for Music Runette Botha paying tribute to three centuries of composition in her recital, and SBYA for Jazz Shane Cooper pushing the envelope with his compositions and collaborations.

The Dance programme will feature the Johannesburg Youth Ballet (JYB)’s Hansel and Gretel; Gregory Maqoma’s embodiment of the traditional, historic and heroic, Exit/Exist; Jazzart Dance Theatre’s translation of Biko’s Quest - For a True Humanity from one art form (photography) to another (dance and performance), and a showcase of Rhythms of the Eastern Cape. Nicola Elliott interrogates the traditional notion of dance in Run!, presented on the Arena

The Performance Art programme will feature two of Swiss artist/performer Yann Marussich’s works: Bleu Remix and Bain Brisé; Gavin Krastin’s eccentric creativity in Rough Musick; and a collaboration with stellar local musicians in an experimental project, Untitled #310, co-ordinated by international artistFrancisco López.

Mbongeni Ngema also returns to the Festival’s Main stage this year with the South African premiere of The Zulu, and Hearts and Eyes Theatre Collective will present My Name is Rachel Corrie,based on the true story of the protagonist’s death. Cry Havoc is an unnerving East-West love story set in a small apartment in Cairo, and marks the UJ Theatre’s professional debut on the National Arts Festival’s Main stage. Canadian playwright Morris Panych’s award-winning black comedy Vigil promises to leave an impression on audiences; while SA theatre legend Tim Plewman of Defending the Caveman fame, stars in The Last Moustache - an outrageous one-man satire with a serious bite; reminding us that what we are sold as truth is often far from it.

The political is a strong theme, with satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys returning to the Festival with Adapt or Fly and An Audience with Pieter-Dirk EISH. The Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) presents Madonna of Excelsior, adapted from the novel by Zakes Mda set in 1971, when nineteen citizens of Excelsior in South Africa’s white-ruled Free State were charged with breaking apartheid’s Immorality Act, and a showcase of work produced under the umbrella of The Market Theatre features Woza Albert (directed by Standard Bank Young Artist Prince Lamla), Cadre (Om philo Molusi), The Island (directed by John Kani), The Line (directed by Gina Shmukler).

The Music programme will see the return of regular crowd favourites such as the Gala and Symphony Concerts, Conduct Unbecoming, KZN Ensembles and the Chanticleer Singers. Also to look forward to: a project comprising compositions by contemporary composers entitled Hidden Treasures; recitals by the internationally award-winning BenSchoeman and Anzél Gerber; Ed Jordan and Nicholas Nicolaidis in the children’s concert Beautiful Creatures; Frank Sinatra & Friends ; the vibrant community-basedJazz at Dakawa, and South African National Youth Orchestra.

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown 2013 incorporates a variety of disciplines into their programme. The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festivaltakes place alongside a diverse programme that features Mainstream, Blues / Funk / World Music, Afro-Jazz, Modern Jazz and Youth; with highlights such as Jonas Gwangwa, Vusi Mahlasela, former SBYA Gloria Bosman, Steve Turre from the Juilliard School of Music, the Soweto String Quartet and new sensations MiCasa, and late night jazz jam session or blues gigs at the new Standard Bank Jazz & Blues Cafe at the Lowlander, St. Andrew’s College.

This year’s film programme features an eclectic mix of seminars and local and international films, considering topics such as The Marquis De Sade and His Contribution To The South African Struggle For Liberty, Mytho Therapy: The Magus, The Master & The Anti-Psychiatrist, Documents And Soundtracks for the End Of Time, Matinee Screenings at The Bioscope. Films to flag Include Underground: The Julian Assange Story, Bail Out: The Age Of Greed, Meat, The Marat/Sade, The Magus, Beware Of Mr Baker, The War Around Us, and The Naked Prey.

The photographs of anti-apartheid photographers, Benny Gool, Zubeida Vallie and Adil Bradlow, are brought together in a group exhibition entitled Martyrs, Saints and Sellouts; whileWomen, Our Treasure!, celebrates the strength of South African women and the manner in which they have held family structures together. Based on selections from the Standard Bank Corporate Art Collection, The Art of Banking: celebrating through collections provides different a journey through South Africa’s history, using art works as points of departure, or triggers, for telling a story about various eras, episodes, circumstances and events. Two exhibitions showcase the work of photographer / filmmaker Brent Meistre, and an exhibition of Wilma Cruise’s work is entitled Will you, Won’t you, join the dance?

This year’s Festival will see a focus on the work of Mike van Graan, in a pilot project that will attempt to put the spotlight on a Festival Playwright. There will also be a showcase of work produced by the PE Opera House, as well as the Market Theatre showcase. Student Theatre will feature seventeen student theatre productions sponsored by the South African Post Office.

The Arena programme continues to showcase the work of artists recognised through the Standard Bank Ovation Awards and International Fringe Juries as being on the cutting edge; and the open-access Fringe always generates a plethora of audience opportunities.

This year's Think Fest programme, which brings together thought leaders, trendsetters and provocateurs, is sponsored by the Embassy of Netherlands and City Press will be the media partner.

The Film Festival is sponsored by the National Film and Video Foundation.

The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from 27 June to 7 July 2013.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Eastern Cape Government, Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, City Press and M Net.

About the National Arts Festival: The National Arts Festival, now in its 39th year, has proved its sustainability and has grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in Southern Africa. Its objectives are to deliver excellence; encourage innovation and development in the arts by providing a platform for both established and emerging South African artists; create opportunities for collaboration with international artists; and build new audiences.

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