The 969 Festival brings some of the shows that can be seen at the National Arts Festival to Johannesburg. 969? 969 kilometres from Grahamstown Monument to Wits, or so I’m told.
Not everyone can get to the National Arts Festival every year and those that can’t will still be able to enjoy a few, twenty to be precise, of the National Arts Festival’s hottest shows chosen from the Main and Fringe.
This year the 969 Festival opens on 15 July 2014 and lasts until 27 July 2014. The line up is not to be sneezed at, and encompasses several things that I will be seeing in Grahamstown. (I will not be back in Johannesburg until a week after the NAF which is the week after the 969 opens).
The tickets, if you book online at Webtickets, are only R50 a show. R60 at the door (if you can get in). Students and pensioners pay R40 at the door, always risking that getting in won’t be an option. These are great shows and will sell out. www.webtickets.co.za!
There are a variety of genres, established talent, new works and loads of fun to be had during this festival.
“Little Pig, Little Pig, let me in…” lines from The Three Little Pigs, comes to Joburg for the FIRST time ever, hot on the heels of 5-star reviews in Perth, Amsterdam and Edinburgh before it heads to New York in August. With Rob Van Vuuren, James Cairns & Albert Pretorius, this show sold out at NAF in 2013 and promises to be a real highlight of the 969 Festival.
The director of Three Little Pigs, Tara Notcutt, has also written and directed Last Rounds about finding love in a modern age. Love features again in Whistlestop with real life couple Jaques de Silva and Ameera Patel in a brilliant new play about the fear/excitement/uncertainty of meeting someone new. Written by Ameera Patel, this poignant funny, highly physical play is sure to strike a chord with audiences.
Original Skin is Phillippa Yaa de Villiers’s very personal exploration of apartheid, adoption and family – with a humorous twist. The acclaimed poet who recently performed for the Queen of England brings storytelling, spoken word and mime together in this reflection on the human quest for belonging and family. In another very different take on understanding one’s place in the universe, The God Complex directed by Sylvaine Strike and featuring Daniel Buckland uses comedy and visual theatre to subvert the role of the supreme patriarchal figure into part bumbling scientist, part desperate showman and part loving but misguided father figure.
Amateur Hour! Directed by John Trengove and featuring Jemma Kahn & Glen Biderman Pam is a lurid but loving celebration of rank amateurism and the remote outer reaches of show business, where the ‘show must go on’ regardless of whether it should. One show that must definitely go on is Jenine Collocott’s Hamlet, a 35 minute theatre-tonic that uses the secrets of the Commedia masters, the forces of physical theatre, improvisational powers, half-mask magic , amazing ‘normal’ language and a tip-top cast – this is Shakespeare on stylistic steroids!
Maid in Mzansi is the official entry to the National Arts Student Festival and we are genuinely proud to showcase the extraordinary talents of student director Roberto Queiroz and cast who have created a thought provoking drama on the relationships that exist between the madams and their maids. Wits final year physical theatre students, Daniel Geddes and Mark Tatham, in their bid to step into the professional theatre industry, make their directive debut with the physical theatre piece, Ira. Both shows will be staged in The Nunnery.
Ndihambile with choreography by Yuhl Headman and Sbonakaliso Ndaba of the Sibikwa Arts Dance Company offers a trio of work around the theme of journeys. There will be two performances in the Main Theatre on 25 and 26th July. neither HEre nor there (and everythIng elSe) choreographed by Nadine Joseph coming off the Main stage of the NAF, deals with the transitory space of addiction. This dance work offers a multi-layered, dynamic envisioning of varied perspectives on addiction.
Nile is the result of a long collaboration between French/Swiss choreographers Laurence Yadi, Nicolas Cantillon – Compagnie 7273 and American guitarist Sir Richard Bishop. This piece aims to capture the undulating nature of the Nile River through a striking and moving combination of dance and music. It positions the river as a reservoir of imagination, rife with contradictions such as permanence and metamorphosis; fecundity and desert; physicality and spirituality.
Fiddler in the Loop is Italian born violin wizard Luca Ciarla who owns the stage with his fiddle, an ocarina, and a few toy instruments. With a loop pedal he plays layers of music over each other, creating an astonishing orchestral texture creating unique sounds. Playing the violin like a guitar, cello or a percussive instrument, Luca sings, whistles, plays the ocarina and other little instruments; to create a dazzling solo violin orchestra.
Kyle Shepherd, 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for jazz, Capetonian pianist, saxophonist and composer has already released three critically-acclaimed albums, all of which have earned him South African Music Award nominations. He has performed in 15 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia with a distinctive sound that pays homage to his musical and cultural roots, but with internationalism that allows him to traverse global stages. His 969 Concert on the 26th of July is a celebration of the 5–year Anniversary of his Trio where he will also launch a brand new Double Album, entitled ‘Dream State’.
Saturday mornings will be devoted to children’s theatre. Productions include Colours of the Rainbow with Princess and Frog, aimed at the 1-6 age group,a delightful not-quite fairy-tale where imagination transforms the everyday into the fantastic. This production invites the young and young at heart to come and hop, sing and dance with Princess and Frog as they learn the colours of the rainbow and make friends along the way. Narrative Dreams is an evocative, thoughtful story about growing up, being alone and forging friendships. Aimed at 10+ audiences, the play takes us into the worlds of two young boys who want to be kings, like their namesakes – David and Morena. It is written by Lereko Mfono and directed by Omphile Molusi. Finally for the 15+ age group, we have the moving story of A Girl Called Owl starring Briony Horwitz and written by Jon Keevy. This play for older teens and adults is quality, thought-provoking theatre, looking at a young girl’s experiences as she leaves behind childhood in a small town environment. This production received 5 star reviews at the Brighton Fringe Festival.
Everyone loves a good laugh and this year we feature two stand-up comedians. Palmer’s aLive!’ is Brent Palmer’s stand-up show which features fresh material about surviving life on the Cape flats, his first year of marriage and his first child. Heavy written and featuring funny manKagiso Mokgadi and directed by another funny man Rob van Vuuren is a show about an overweight son of a sangoma and a western medicine nurse who considers fist fighting an inconvenience. His views of our country’s politics can only be considered unique. Expect big-belly laughs and hilarious points of view.
Closing the 969 Festival on Sunday 27th July is the very talented Jitsvinger, a Capetonian with heart. Guitarist, poet, rapper, and social activist, he teams up with beatmaker and popular Hip-Hop producer Arsenic on the decks in a performance concert titled “Jitsenic”.
Bookings open on 12 June on www.webtickets.co.za. Ticket enquiries can be directed to Catherine Pisanti on firstname.lastname@example.org Tickets: online = R 50:00, At the door = R 60:00, Students/pensioners = R 40:00 (ID / student card must be presented at the door).