With the 40th annual National Arts Festival at an end, life in G-town is slowly returning to normal. As festival goers return home, they’ll no doubt still have plenty to brag about when it comes to their 11-day experience of one of the most iconic celebrations of the arts.
If you couldn't make it in 2014 and what with all the rave reviews of performances and exhibitions based at this year’s event, you’ll certainly want to make a plan for next year’s event. Here’s 6 memorable highlights from the 2014 National Arts Festival:
• Standard Bank National Jazz Festival which includes the National Youth Jazz Festival is a showcase of local and international jazz talents. International headliner and Grammy award winner Maria Schneider graced the festival stage for the first time to deafening applause. While our legendary Hugh Masakela, didn’t disappoint the jazz loving audiences. Let’s not forget big names like Louis Moholo-Moholo as well as the notable talents and Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners like Tutu Puoane (2004), Mark Fransman (2008), Shane Cooper (2013) and Kyle Shepherd (2014) who also wowed crowds with their skills.
• Lira, SA’s fave multi-platinum award winning singer delivered a thrilling performance to fans in her hour long set. This was her first performance at the festival in seven years. She even treated fans to an encore that lasted 45mins! The musical feast continued with the mesmerising and toe-tapping rendition by vocalists like Gloria Bosman, Melanie Scholtz and Zanne Stapelberg. The Village Green, the street market of the fest also played hosted to daily live band performances. One such band, worthy of mention was the Nomadic Orchestra with their mix of Balkan and jazz.
• Hassan and Husain Essop's art exhibition entitled Unrest won them the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art. Poignant photographs depicting the senselessness of violence and gangsterism in daily life was the theme of the exhibition hosted by the twin brothers from Cape Town. It made a powerful impact on audiences who were left questioning whether enough was being done in curbing such violence in society.
• Cargo: Precious, a theatrical dance piece detailing Saartjie Baartman’s sea voyage to Europe in the 19th Century, was well received at the festival. Saartjie was regarded as a “freak show” and put on exhibit in Europe because of her unusual physical characteristics. The performance used sheets as props (to depict the movement of the sea )along with music and sound effects to set the scene for this moving performance that got crowds up on their feet at the end. If These Bodies Could Speak, a piece exploring how bodies connect through dance, was a must-see at the festival. Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance 2012 Bailey Snyman and Standard Bank Ovation Award 2011 winner Nicola Haskins were the choreographers of this exceptional dance performance.
• Ubu and the Truth Commission offered a multimedia theatrical piece themed on accounts of the apartheid regime. The actors and puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company mixed well together to bring this piece to life exploring the violence and absurdities of SA’s apartheid past.
• The Standard Bank Tuk-Tuks were no doubt a godsend to festival goers trying to get from venue to venue. There was an added bonus to this service especially if you were a Standard Bank cardholder. Standard Bank cardholders got to ride for free!
From jazz, theatre, dance, performance art to visual art, the festival is a feast for the eyes, ears, if not the soul. It may be goodbye to the 2014 National Arts Festival but there is plenty excitement for the next one! See you in 2015.