The CT Fringe Festival: 4 artists shaping the future of theatre in SA

The Cape Town Fringe Festival is bringing over 70 productions to the Mother City from 22 September to the 8 October. This year, special attention has been paid to showcasing the work of new voices. Traditionally, regular festival goers tend to seek out familiar faces and book tickets accordingly, however this time, most of the programme features emerging practitioners.

When it comes to theatre – if it’s not comedy or large-scale musicals – most audiences will attend productions with five-star reviews or from word of mouth recommendations by ‘those in the know’. One of the many obstacles performance practitioners face is venue space and access to wide audiences, which is made more difficult if you’re not yet established. Sure there are theatres, but waiting lists are long and without a big marketing budget or a ‘name’ in the industry, there’s no guarantee that audiences will be queuing at the door. 

The only way for emerging theatre makers to grow as artists and hone their visions is to put their work in front of the audience. Those watching become the barometer by which they can assess and see the different ways their work resonates with others. So, it’s inspiring to see the festival’s encouraging approach in providing a surge of new talent a platform to celebrate and perform their work.

Festivals tend to be busy times for theatre makers so to make things easier, we chatted to four artists via WhatsApp who are presenting work and who we’re excited to see shape the future of the industry.

Koleka Putuma

Koleka’s work as a poet, writer and theatre maker is determined, vocal and unapologetic. In 2014 she won South Africa’s first national poetry slam champion. Since then, she has headlined at TEDx and her work has been showcased around the US, in Scotland and Germany. Last year she was in residency at Magnet Theatre and created two original plays called Ekhaya and SCOOP for young audiences. Currently, she’s a resident poet and creative director of the collective Lingua Franca and the co-founder of theatre company, The Papercut Collective.

Her production, Woza Sarafina! takes inspiration from the film Sarafina! and Wole Soyinka’s From Zia, With Love. At Cape Town Fringe, she’ll be directing City Varsity students, who through physical theatre, tell the story of students who are imprisoned after having bombed colonial statues. Weaving between the past, present and future, they share their hopes, fears and predictions for South Africa’s future.

Where: City Hall 1  Ticket price: R43 – R50

Cape Town Fringe

Philip Rademeyer 

While working with Penny Youngleson under the umbrella company, Rust Co-Operative, Philip wrote and directed the award-winning play,The View, which brought him both national and international acclaim scooping the Oscar Wilde Award for Best New Writing, and the Doric Wilson Intercultural Dialogue Award. His latest play, The Graveyard, received a Silver Ovation at the National Arts Festival. Visually, his work tends to be hauntingly stark, while his words are deeply poetic and unfold like philosophical manifestos. Thematically, his work focuses on developing a queer aesthetic and giving voice to those previously and currently marginalised. 

At this year’s festival, he’s directing the comedy East Post Love written by Jaco Nothnagel and Anne Hirsch. The short and long of it is, “What happens when your GRINDR hookup comments on your #FeesMustFall thread on Twitter? Help!!”. Don’t miss how one man, who is desperately trying to love himself, explains the complexities of Social Media. Directing comedy also marks a break for Philip from the dramatically inclined shows he usually tends to direct.  

Where: City Hall 2  Ticket price: R50

Cape Town Fringe

Jason Jacobs

In 2015 Jason’s production, Kalahari Swaan, was the recipient of the Artscape’s New Voices programme. Inspired by Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the show utilised physical theatre, dance and Afrikaans to explore notions of freedom and self-discovery. Jason was also nominated for a Fleur du Cap for best new director in 2015.  

His new dance and physical theatre show, Stof Rooi, features Dustin Bec and unpacks the turmoils faced by a young matriculant, and his uncertain future. It first debuted at the Obs Family Festival and had a successful showing at the KKNK Uitkampteater this year. 

Venue: City Hall Auditorium Ticket Price: R51-R60

Cape Town Fringe

Photo by Callum Tillbury

Crizelle Anthony

Crizelle Anthony is a recent graduate from UCT’s Drama Department and a member of Hungry Minds Theatre. Her show, Out of Bounds, sheds light on the overlooked voice of Indians living in South Africa both during and post-apartheid and explores notions of identity within a patriarchal context. 

Venue: City Hall 2 Tickets: R51-R60

Cape Town Fringe

Visit the Fringe Festival Website for the full line-up of shows and festivities taking place this year.

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