Wits to host Digital Africa Festival 2014

In recognition of the role digital technology is destined to play in “Africa’s Century”, Wits University has announced that it will host its inaugural Fak’ugesi: Digital Africa Festival 2014, running from 11 August to mid-September 2014.

The festival will be centered on the JCSE’s new Tshimologong Precinct and will make use of other venues on Wits East and West Braamfontein campuses, the Maboneng Precinct and 44 Stanley.

For more information and specific dates, visit our online calendar.

HEADLINE EVENTS CONFIRMED:

Agile Africa 2014: A major conference on software development methods, following up on the very successful inaugural event held in Braamfontein in August 2013.

A MAZE/Johannesburg 2014: An Indie-Games and Digital Arts Festival, attracting games developers and digital artists from Europe and Africa. This festival has been run annually since 2012 in Braamfontein in partnership with the organisers of Berlin’s A MAZE Festival.

CASCADE: CASCADE is a collaborative multi-disciplinary project that champions digital content development through a series of workshops and activities. The event is led by “Onedotzero” – an experiential arts organisation with over 16 years’ experience in curating and producing cultural events and content for brands and agencies. CASCADE will be supported by the British Council.

Process Improvement Africa: This is a one-day conference focusing on the role that process and process improvement plays in helping ICT organisations deliver high quality products and services in a predictable and repeatable manner. The conference will showcase models and methods such as CMMI, ITIL, TSP and AGILE.

Maker Event: 3-D Printing, laser cutters and other rapid prototyping tools are revolutionizing hardware innovation. “Maker Spaces” give innovators the freedom to explore solutions in the hardware world as easily as software developers do in the world of bits and bytes. The Maker Event will provide an opportunity for “Makers” to collaborate, learn and teach.

Unyazi Festival of Electronic Music: The only African festival dedicated to the latest developments in electronic and electro-acoustic music. Launched at Wits in 2005, the 2014 Festival, in partnership with NewMusicSA, will feature innovative and exploratory music from African and the rest of the world.

969 Film Festival

969

FESTIVAL: “Hamlet” one of the productions from the 969 festival was chosen among the top 20 shows selected from the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. Photo: Zelmarie Goosen

Joburgers looking for a taste of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival have until Sunday to plunge into 969 festival at the Wits Theatre.

The festival showcases 20 of the top performances from art festivals main stages as well as the fringe.

Wits Theatre director Gita Pather called 969 festival a success with sold out performances all week. She said organising the festival is a lot of hard work but her job is made easier because she selects productions only from the Grahamstown festival to bring to Wits.

“This university is about collaboration, about pushing the boundaries of the work we do in whatever we do … and the Wits Theatre is about providing an incubator for new talent,” Pather said.

One of the key changes made this year was moving 969 festival closer to the national event in Grahamstown.

Pather said this year’s festival gained a unique aspect because it has been filled with immensely talented people and different plays which had a mix of dance, drama, physical theatre and stand-up comedy. “I think all theatres and all festivals reflect their artistic directors and their particular bent towards the arts,” said Pather.

One of the productions for the 969 festival, Hamlet directed by Jenine Collocott, had its first performance on Wednesday night with a good turnout. Collocott describes the play as a comedia delighte of the Shakespearean Hamlet.

Hamlet is a 35-minute performance which consists of comedy, physical theatre, and improvisation which is stylistically inspired by the story of Hamlet. It features actors James Cairns, Jaques De Silva and Taryn Bennett.

A student production, Ira, is a physical theatre performance which explores the strange nature of human emotions and how we express or supress them.

It is directed by Wits drama students Daniel Geddes and Mark Tatham. Geddes said he felt good about performing in this year’s 969 festival as it was his first time.

 

“It’s exciting and it’s also nice to have that it is also recognised in a bigger platform outside of student work,” he said.

They have also recently performed at film festivals in Grahamstown and Pretoria but Geddes says he is glad to be home at Wits because he enjoys the support of his peers.

“It’s nice coming back to Wits where your peers are kind of keen to see it,” Geddes said.

The 969 Festival was originally funded by the Johannesburg Development Agency and Wits University to give locals the opportunity to experience the national arts festival without traveling the 969 kilometres to Grahamstown.

WITH GALLERY: Soulful wrap to a weekend of jazz

The third leg of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival is usually the most highly anticipated. This year’s finale was no different – with the likes of Selaelo Selota, Stimela and Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse standing out as local favourites to look forward to. Carmen Lundy and The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards were the must-see international acts.

Saturday was the busiest of the three evenings, with all the restaurants in the enclosed precinct filled to capacity.

A medley of jazz genres and hip hop could be heard as enthusiasts made their way from one venue to the next, rushing to get a good seat with the perfect view.

Bassline and the Dinaledi stages were the more intimate spaces, with the audience almost at eye level with the artists. Stimela and Kabomo Vilakazi were on the more concert-like Mbira stage and their shows were fitting of this setting.

As soon as they started performing their first item, Stimela’s audience was on their feet. The crowd danced and sang along to the band’s very last song – after which they demanded an encore from the Afro-fusion legends.

As the evening drew to a close and jazz lovers made their way out, they were met with crowds that had clearly watched Selota instead. They laughed and shouted “Thrr Phaa!” the catchy phrase and title of one of his more famous singles. The exit queues were abuzz with informal reviews of the shows they had seen, most of which were filled with excitement and satisfaction.

Wherever you ended up this past weekend, as long as you were in Newtown, you were in for a soulful treat from some of the world’s most celebrated artists.