The Great Field has been closed off and exams forgotten; the National Arts Festival is just around the corner. Being the 40th year anniversary, the official programme may be bursting, but there is equally as much on offer in terms of the ‘town’ programme. From classic comedic acts to face-melting music, be prepared to go big this year.
Here is a personal run-down of our recommended events and the best of Fest.
Music wise, be prepared to spend your nights hauling-ass between venues, especially Champs Action Bar and the newly renovated ‘37 on New’, which both have extensive music line-ups that cater for everyone’s tastes.
Opening up Fest on the 3July at 37 on New are Mao, DJ Kenichi and Filth who’ll be dropping bass beats, throwing in trap for good measure and electro for the EDM kids. Just up the road, Veranda Panda will be at Champs making music with their machines and violin. Their next performance is at 37 on New the following night, ensuring that there will be an opportunity to hear their electronic glitch sound before fest is over.
Shadowclub is returning to Grahamstown, performing at Champs on the Wednesday the 9July, while 37 on New will be oozing “deep and melodic beats” courtesy of Munro Munnik, The Atmosphere Technician, Dane-m and Point Blank on the same night. P.H Fat are slithering back to Grahamstown on 10 July also at 37 on New. Don’t regret missing what is sure to be an energised performance. They’ll be joined by Jay B, DJ Kenichi and Filth. To get a taste of the experience, download their latest album, “Happiness Machines” from their website – http://phfatmusic.com/ (Its free. You’re welcome).
37 on New have enough trance planned to satisfy the most tweaked of trance bunnies, with 5 and 6 July dedicated to Tune Raider, Sonic, Roach, Pystist, Dala, Khlem Trail, @nt, Verax and Point Blank getting the feet stomping to psy-trance, deep bass and mind-warping décor.
Venture back into official Fest territory and you’ll get a good smack of jazz in the face. Grammy award winner composer, conductor, arranger, and performer Maria Schneider will soothe ears on 5 and 6 July, in the DSG Hall. Jazz magician Hugh Masekela will be playing a must-see concert on the 12July in the Guy Butler Theatre, 1820 Monument.
Arno Carstens and Francois van Coke are teaming up to perform a slew of music from their various bands as well as popular South African rock songs. Head up to the 1820 Monument on 10July for this tribute to home-grown music. For the indie kids – Matthew Mole will be letting his melodious folk sounds loose on 11 July, also performing alongside multiple South African Music Awards (SAMA) nominated Nakane Toure on the 12th, at the Guy Butler Theatre, 1820 Monument.
For a comedic relief, The Three Little Pigs is returning to Fest to elicit those painful smiles and awkward laughs from 4 to 12 July in the St. Andrew’s Hall. Another comedic element thrown into the mix of Fest is #sorrynotsorry from multiple Standard Bank Award winner Martin Evans, running nearly every day from the 3to 12July, in St. Andrew’s Studio 1.
4 and 5 July usher in the grace and apparent ease of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève performing William Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Guy Butler Theatre, 1820 Monument. If there is no appeal attached to this, the very name of Marikana–The Musical should be enough to spark interest. This retelling of the tragedy has performances on 7 and 9 July in the Graeme College Theatre.
Rhodes University student Hannah Lax’s visual and physical theatre production Solo will show on 9 and 11July. Get out there and support some local talent, held in the Rehearsal Room.
For more details and events, go through the programme, which is available online through https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/. There will surely be something in the roughly 2500 performances that will lure your hungover self out of the safety and warmth of wherever you managed to fall asleep. Be safe out there, Fest season is almost upon us.