Freezing, but feeling festive

Grahamstown is cold. Very cold. Which makes going out to shows quite a challenge. It is tempting to stay inside, next to the heater. So far I have managed to drag myself out for all my shows, although scheduled trips to the craft markets and art exhibitions were abandoned.

Fortunately all the shows have been worth it.  The festival diary so far:

Thursday – Mouche : based on a story by Paul Gallico, this play features Tim Redpath playing six different characters. One of them is a puppeteer, which adds another six characters to the mix.  It was an amazing play, with puppets, dolls, a moving story and a very strong performance from Redpath. This really did get the festival off to a good start for me.

Friday:  I had not booked for anything, knowing I would be busy at work and not sure what I felt like seeing. Sadly the show I picked was sold out. Disappointing for me, but nice for Guy Buttery. So I bought his cd at the door and went home and listened to it in comfort.

Saturday: Abnormal Loads by Neil Coppen was breathtaking. That Standard Bank Young Artist Award was well deserved.  The show got rave reviews and everyone I know who saw it absolutely loved it. The script, the stage set, the performances – everything worked well.

A quick supper and then up to the monument for the ballet. We watched Swan Lake, which was lovely. Although it was so cold I felt the swans should have been issued with ice skates.

Sunday: Gala concert with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra = two hours of glorious music.  What was amusing was how many Grahamstown people were in the audience.  Supper at Red Cafe followed (I had the Moroccan lamb tagine which was very good). As a bonus we were given comp tickets to see Gary Thomas. A pleasant hour of guitar and singing, and good to be going to see someone whose work I did not know.

And that was the first weekend done.  So far, it has been amaz!ng, as the posters promise. Now if only someone could get the heating turned on.  Last night, in a venue with a fire going, I thought the singer was smoking, and then realised that it was condensation in the air. Brr. And on Saturday night at the monument it was starting to sleet. Big brr.

On the plus side, all the people selling jerseys, jackets, socks, gloves, hot food etc must be smiling.


A Song and Dance

The Rest of the Fest – Part 2

Songs of Migration – compiled by Hugh Masakela and James Ncgobo and featuring Hugh Masakela and Sibongile Khumalo, this was an awesome show.  Using music and dance the talented cast capture the experiences of migrancy in South Africa.

Ballet Bonanza : Festival is pretty much the only time I get to see ballet, so the ballet is usually one of the first pages I look at in the programme (unless we are fortunate to have an opera on). This year there were two productions from Cape Town City Ballet.  They put on Carmen two years ago, so I decided to give that a miss. The other programme, Ballet Bonanza was a mix of extracts from different ballets.  It was a lovely show, with highlights from old favourites, and some less familiar pieces.  What was particularly lovely for me was seeing so many children in the audience. This was an ideal show to introduce little ones to ballet, with short pieces and no complicated story, just a chance to sit back and enjoy the music and the dancing.

Sentimientos – this was a very different dance production, but equally delightful. La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre put on an energetic and beautiful performance of flamenco dancing. I was swept away by the colours, the movement and the glorious music (courtesy of a live five-piece band). Stamping feet, castanets, guitars, a double bass all combined with the swirling skirts and flowing movements. Ole!