Being an old Rhodes University student, the National Arts Festival is something which I used to take for granted. I attended it almost every year during my stay in, what was fondly referred to by many of us as, the ‘Gspot’. Since I finished up there in 2009, I have not been back since.
I decided enough was enough and this was the year I would go back for a visit. A visit which would include a bit more of the cultural side of things than it had in the past – which it did. Although my stay was about 2 days in total, I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of exploring and show watching. The latter was limited by budget, time and also about half a day of feeling quite sorry for myself.
One thing that really struck me about the 6 shows I managed to make, was the complete and utter talent we have in South Africa. Not that I have ever doubted it, but I was completely blown away by the performances I watched. However, one’s viewing pleasure does not stop there, people are performing in the street, parking lots, the village green (where all the stalls are) and basically anywhere there is an open space. These performances range from: dancing, theatrical performances, comedians and musicians.
The shows I did make, consisted mainly of stand up comedy and illusionists/magicians. And by mainly, I mean only – I would have been keen on watching some theatrical pieces, I am going to blame me not going to any of those on the people I was with…yes, that is it. The buzz in and around the audience during the shows I watched was amazing; the pre-show excitement, the South African touches during and then the wonderful post show chatter and ‘highlights’. I found the overall admin side of the arts festival was handled really well, everything was well labeled, the program booklet was super helpful and all the shows were very fairly priced too – a winning combintation of you ask me. Grahamstown National Arts Festival organisers 1: people who say nothing is well organised in SA 0.
Overall, I would recommend the Grahamstown National Arts Festival for anyone, from SA (or abroad). There is something to do for anyone and at least one show is guaranteed to elicit an emotion of some sort. If this does not suit your fancy, go for the people. If you are a ‘people-watcher’ like me, then during this week and a half you will be in for a real treat.
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