With the National Arts Festival having had less than 100 days to go from the late stages of planning a live festival to hauling an entirely new programme online, it is quite surprising to find over 270 hours of online arts content on the festival’s site. Surprising if you didn’t know South African artists – who are masters of adaptability in an always-challenging arts environment, have had an extraordinary response during these unprecedented times.
These same artists were also behind the call to extend the availability of the content after the National Arts Festival ended on 5 July. There is now a handful of extra days to binge on some of the best of South African talent before it all vanishes again.
While festival “goers” will be offered a wide selection of works to view according to their personal preference, there are, however, a few that audiences have particularly loved during the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival and which are all available for streaming on demand. Here’s what to expect:
Slindile Mthembu’s production titled ‘Igama?‘ highlights the challenges of women trapped in the expectations of a post-Colonial South Africa and trying to break through the frame. The production is highly on-demand and ready to stream, regardless of production issues that hampered with their readiness to join the festival’s daily releases.
The site will offer viewers a look at Thandiswa ‘King Tha’ Mazwai’s remarkable performance on the Standard Bank Jazz Festival’s stage. The performance was a hot ticket for her thousands of fans and is a must-add to your evening viewing list.
Swan Song is a reworking of Buhle Ngaba’s sublime, sad and beautiful story on grief and growing up or head for Macbeth. The epic tale reimagined, as only Brett Bailey can, was captured on film and is available for streaming.
Travel back in time with Michelle Douglas’ Breathing Space, which takes a deeper look at circumstances and beliefs that shaped the ‘freethinking’ views of Olive Schreiner and how she placed enormous importance on principle versus personality.
A scene from the Standard Bank Jazz Festival with UK’s Grammy-winning sensation Jacob Collier, a multi-instrumentalist who gives us a South African take on his work at 3am from his bedroom.
An audio play to enjoy is Woolworths; a satirical peek at white South Africa by Juliet Jenkin. Additionally, comedy lovers will have the option to stream The Very Big Comedy Show – a new online comedy format.
And, of course, be sure to include Pest Control, where Mamela Nyamza makes the urgent call to “Fix it, Fix it!” in reference to the need for a purge of the corruption and maladministration in the arts industry.
There is even more on vFringe – a platform for artists to stage their work online safely, easily and snap up 90% of proceeds. The vFringe is still open for submissions and is growing daily.
Catch it all online until 31 July and be sure to follow their social media and visit their website for more details.