Fresha Festival free on Durban beach

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The Fresha Festival of free fun family al-fresco theatre will be staged for the third time on Durban’s North Beach for three days on 18, 19, 20 January.

Fresha Festival 2018 - Seeking Asylum – a performance art piece by Doung Anwar Jahangeer. He will be opening the festival again this year. Photo: Harry Lock.
Fresha Festival 2018 – Seeking Asylum – a performance art piece by Doung Anwar Jahangeer. He will be opening the festival again this year. Photo: Harry Lock.

The Fresha team has selected a programme of vibrant, engaging works that are non-verbal and last just 15-20 minutes. All the shows are in the daylight, in the open-air and free to all. The format for Saturday and Sunday is similar with shows which are accessible to people of all ages, family-friendly and from all walks of life. Festival Director Emma Durden considered: “What could be more quintessentially Durban than a summer festival of free family theatre?”

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The festival starts on Friday 18 January in the late afternoon, at 17:00, with the opening procession along the promenade and a performance showcase on the Bay of Plenty lawns providing a scintillating trailer package of all the participants to give opening audiences a taste of what is in store during the festival.

Fresha Festival 2018 - Dudlu…Dadlaza – a Dance piece by Musa Hlatshwayo and Mhayise Productions. These dancers will be doing early morning daily dance classes again this year. Photo: Harry Lock.
Fresha Festival 2018 – Dudlu…Dadlaza – a Dance piece by Musa Hlatshwayo and Mhayise Productions. These dancers will be doing early morning daily dance classes again this year. Photo: Harry Lock.

The programme for the festival proper starts on Saturday morning, 19 January, at 07:00 with a free, open yoga class to gently greet the day, followed by a free, open dance class led by last year’s Standard Bank for Dance award-winning Musa Hlatswayo and his group of dancers to up the pace. Saturday’s dance will be DanceXercise while Sunday will be a Zumba class.

At 09:00 there will be public participative workshops on street theatre; parkour and recycled art. On Saturday join in with Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble for a workshop on creating art out of waste. Join Gerard O for a masterclass in street performance on Sunday: whether you are an aspiring actor, comedian or just want to entertain yourself – come and explore the mad world of this acclaimed Dutch performer for an hour. Free of charge. All day every day, add your wisest bit of advice from your favourite song in our open art exhibition: Advice from Songs. Inspired by Swiss Artist Marcus Kraft and his work – PopMusicWisdom.

Fresha Festival 2018 - A firm festival favourite, Gerard O from the Netherlands performing his special style of comedy street theatre. He returns to the festival again this year. Photo: Harry Lock.
Fresha Festival 2018 – A firm festival favourite, Gerard O from the Netherlands performing his special style of comedy street theatre. He returns to the festival again this year. Photo: Harry Lock.

The first show of the festival starts at 13:00 with a dramatic much-anticipated one-hander performance by Durban-based conceptual artist Doung Jahangeer whose challenging and visually-astonishing work has opened both previous Fresha festivals. Charming, innovative and funny, Netherlands comedy street performer Gerard Olthaar – also a Fresha regular – will amuse audiences with his antics, before a contemporary dance piece at 14:00: Tran(ce)itions by Sizwe Hlope. Street theatre continues with two pieces by Township Arts Academic and 034 Drama group.

At 15:00 there will be a performance with puppets, entitled The Thing About Wolves created by performed by the Mahlekahlathini Mask and Puppet Players from the KZN Midlands in collaboration with puppeteers from the acclaimed Handspring Puppet company. Zamokhukhanye Productions follow with a street theatre piece. Deaf performer Sibo Masondo charms the audience with some innovative original mime. At 16:00, Jarryd Watson’s tenacious group of dancers from Wentworth Arts and Culture will perform an electric street-dance piece, full of tricks. The final two performances of the day celebrate physicality – with Unyezi Productions doing a physical theatre piece and InnoV8 Gym / Bluefire Productions wrapping up the theatre programme for the day with an aerial act.

Fresha Festival 2018 - Dudlu…Dadlaza – a Dance piece by Musa Hlatshwayo and Mhayise Productions. These dancers will be doing early morning daily dance classes again this year. Photo: Vanessa Cracknell.
Fresha Festival 2018 – Dudlu…Dadlaza – a Dance piece by Musa Hlatshwayo and Mhayise Productions. These dancers will be doing early morning daily dance classes again this year. Photo: Vanessa Cracknell.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the days will end with fabulous sundowner music concerts on the lawn. On Saturday is the turn of The South Jersey Pompoms and Sunday an unusual combination of Afro-Blues and Opera featuring Zulu Blue and La Canta Rosa.

During the day there will be all-day art and interactions to enjoy: I Speak for the Trees exhibition of recycled art – a project of Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble featuring life-size trees made of garbage found along the Durban beachfront by young artists in a mentorship programme led by Christine Adams.

Between acts visitors will be invited to make a hand-written poster inspired by Advice from Songs – a participative project by Swiss artist Marcus Kraft.

The Fresha Festival is directed by Emma Durden, supported by Roel Twijnstra and is presented by Twist Theatre Development Projects which focuses on the development of community theatre groups in KwaZulu-Natal, and on creating sustainable relationships and networks for theatre development, both locally and abroad. Twist is funded by The National Lotteries Commission and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Additional funding for Fresha has also been graciously provided by eThekwini Municipality the Department of Arts and Culture, KZN and the KZN Performing Arts Trust.

“Here is to a brilliant third edition of the Fresha Festival!” says Durden!

For more info, visit www.freshafestival.co.za. Find Fresha Festival on facebook and @freshafest on twitter.

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