Ape Man: Tony Miyambo will perform at the National Arts Festival

Tickets, check! Accommodation, check! Transport, check! The National Arts Festival is back on June 30 until July 10 and promises to showcase more talent and appeal to a more diverse crowd than in previous years.

Every year, Grahamstown comes alive with music, dance, visual art as well as film and stage productions. It’s a non-stop party that lasts 11 days. “The extensive festival programme caters for the whims and fancies of all kinds of arts enthusiasts and those looking for a short escape from the humdrum of everyday life,” says festival director Ismail Mahomed.

Wits will have its production Red Peter’s Way Out showing at the festival. Directed by master’s student Phala Ookeditse, 4th year dramatic arts student Toni Bonani Miyambo is its sole cast member. The play is an adaptation of a play by Franz Kafka where Ookeditse explores identity and race post-apartheid.

He touches on how much we as South Africans define our identity by the colour of our skin, and the stereotypes and expectations we attach to people when they are a certain race. He also touches on how South Africans were simply fighting for a way out of the apartheid system as opposed to fighting for freedom.

Ookeditse says it’s a “heavy text that is very physical”. He adds that it was challenging to make it a lighter piece that would speak to the audience.

New additions to this year’s National Arts Festival programme include productions from winners of the inaugural Standard Bank Ovations awards which premier in this year’s Arena programme.

Visual arts enthusiasts will be able to attend interactive workshops by established South African comic book and other illustrative artists.

A jazz programme for children is another innovation this year. Also, with the Public Arts programme having grown to almost three times its previous size this year, people will have easier access to experience the arts.

Tickets are selling fast and so is accommodation (not that you’ll be sleeping much), so book soon.

For more information visit: www.nationalartsfestival.co.za