Artsvark Guide to the festival – Day 1

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This larger than life puppet was one of a few at the entrance to the monument welcoming guests to this year's #NationalArtsFestival #NAF2016
This larger than life puppet was one of a few at the entrance to the monument welcoming guests to this year’s #NationalArtsFestival #NAF2016

The Artsvark team made their way to Grahamstown late yesterday afternoon, arriving at what looked like a not particularly festive Settler’s Monument at dusk. Turning into Settler’s Way however, the banner flags and festive lighting changed our initial perceptions. Festival goers were greeted at the entrance to the monument by three larger than life puppets and a few models in traditional Sotho clothing. We followed the sounds of a marimba band that led us into the monument on our way to the media centre. Wandering through the monument past the usual walls and windows with random show posters between the floor and ceiling, we passed more models dressed in the traditional outfits of the many cultures and groups represented in our country.

The marimba band welcoming guests to the 1820 Settlers National Monument the evening before Festival 2016 #NAF2016
The marimba band welcoming guests to the 1820 Settlers National Monument the evening before Festival 2016 #NAF2016

Grahamstown is still reasonably quiet on this the 1st day of the National Arts Festival, it is a warm day with a predicted high of 24°C, numerous stall holders are getting set up at the market on Church Square, offloading trailers and unpacking boxes of CDs, jackets, dresses, scarves. Some of the church square regulars are back again this year, like the kudu burger and schwarma trailer, preparing for the crowd that is likely to start pouring in today.

The artsvark team have taken a look at the day’s programme and recommend these as shows to see on this 1st day of festivities:

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at 10:00 you can see Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny, a brilliant solo performance by Craig Morris this show was selected to play at the Wits 969 Festival that selects shows from Grahamstown to host immediately after festival in Joburg. The show tells the story of Johnny Boskak who is trying to find the quickest route out of Secunda, while looking for love while running into and away from trouble.

at 12:00 Dead Yellow Sands sees the combination of a haunting original South African script with the consumate skills of a veteran production team. This show sees actor and writer Graham Weir working with director Bo Petersen again after their huge successes with Tales from a Dark Corner, Letters from Patient Essop and Not the Midnight Mass.

This afternoon at 16:00 one of the Festival’s featured productions is Oomasisulu a play based on the biographical novel by Elinor Sisulu. This adaptation of vignettes from Elinor Sisulu’s biography provides intimate insights on this feisty anti apartheid activist and leader. It explores the basic concept of political activism and tries to answer the question: what gives birth to such an undertaking.

Enjoy the first day of festival, feel free to share your views and reviews with our team by emailing editor@artsvark.co.za

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