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Fantastic family theatre at Grahamstown National Arts Festival

Published on 5 June 2015

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][IN THE NEWS] The ASSITEJ Family Fare Platform returns to the National Arts Festival for a fourth year to promote rich and diverse theatre for young audiences and their families.

This year, the ASSITEJ Family Fare Platform presents a rich diversity of 14 productions – entertaining, thought provoking and engaging show that aim to give families the opportunity of ‘growing up and growing together through theatre’.

On the Main Programme, two international collaborations are featured – Red Earth Revisited and True Confusion.

Red Earth Revisited by Speelteater Holland and ASSITEJ SA is a re-imagining of the events around the Xhosa prophetess Nongqawuse, seen through the eyes of a migrant stork. The production stars local actors Macebo Mavuso, Thami Mbongo and Roshina Ratnam as well as a chorus of South African and Netherlands-based artists, and uses puppetry, movement and song in vibrant and interesting ways. It will tour the Eastern Cape after the Festival.

True Confusion by ZeBu (Denmark), aimed at ages 8 to 13, is a physical interpretation of the situation where children find themselves paradoxically accepting their reality while asking hundreds of questions. It is a playful, challenging and interactive dance production that has toured extensively internationally and will be performed on South African soil for the first time at the Festival.

A exciting local dance production is Once Upon a Fire by Briony Horwitz, co-directed by Nkosinathi Gaar and choreographed by David Matamela (a judge on the South African edition of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’). Aimed at audiences aged 5 – 11, Once Upon a Fire revives the ancient art of story-telling through dance and enchanting shadow puppetry. This production has been created under ASSITEJ South Africa’s mentorship through the director’s involvement in the Inspiring a Generation programme, which gives emerging South African artists opportunities for international collaboration and exchange.

There are also a number of performances that address issues such as social injustice, crimes against humanity, disability and inclusivity in exciting and challenging ways, providing the opportunity for starting conversations with young people around important issues:

  • The Orphan of Gaza by Eliot Moleba performed by Nidaa Hussein and Megan van Wyk, tells the story of a young girl in Gaza. After a rocket attack, she is told that her parents have gone to a better place. Armed with a makeshift aircraft, helmet, GPS and a cockpit full of courage, she and her pet, plot a journey to search for them.
  • Warrior on Wheels presented by the Chaeli Campaign, directed by Jayne Batzofin. The Chaeli Campaign is one of the few local non-profit organisations that has been founded by children who are active members of the management committee. This production, based on Deidre Gower’s book, aims to engage and enliven the imagination and encourage a more accepting society, especially for those with disabilities. This production was specifically created for children aged 7 to 15.
  • Mirrored Flaws by Thando Baliso, tells the story of three teenagers embroiled in social ills. This production aimed at teenagers is told through movement, spoken word and dance.
  • The Rise and Fall presented by Sisonke Art Productions, directed by Herbert Mokoena (winner of the 2014 SANCTA Awards) was developed through the ASSITEJ South Africa’s mentorship programme. It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl kidnapped by Ugandan rebels and forced to become a soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army. Four years later, she attempts to return to her childhood village, nervous about the reception she will receive.

Clowning for Young Audiences

With decades of experience, veteran Durban clown Adi Paxton returns with Double The Fun, a production made up of magic, clowning and puppetry for ages 3 and up.

Visual theatre for young audiences

  • Making Mandela. Written by Nick Warren and Jenine Collocott, directed by Jenine Collocott. An imaginative journey through the childhood of Nelson Mandela featuring colourful characters, vividly portrayed in beautiful masks, with physical performances supported by emotive sound design and theatrical styling. This is the story of what influenced the rural boy to become the global legend.
  • Florence and Watson. Written and directed by Rob van Vuuren and Dani Bischoff. A magical mountain full of fairies, dragons, giants and talking animals with Fleur du Cap Award winner Dean Balie and Fleur Du Cap and Standard Bank Ovation Award winner Sne Dladla. Infused with great comedy, awesome music and beautiful performances.
  • Being Norm. One of Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2013, Rhodes graduate Richard Antrobus of Oddbody Theatre returns to the Festival with this highly successful mime comedy solo. Ideal for anyone 10 and over.
  • Lake. Directed by Daniel Buckland, performed by Ryan Dittman and Jaques de Silva. Returning to Festival of the second time, Lake addresses issues human issues friendship and societal issues around water conservation through warm, funny physical theatre, clowning and puppetry.
  • The Incredible Journey. Directed by Tara and Brian Notcutt and performed by Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, Stefan Erasmus and Luke Brown. The Incredible Journey premiered at this year’s Perth International Fringe Festival. Follow Tommy’s journey as he becomes a hero.

Music for young audiences

The Keiskamma Academy presents Indalo. Directed by Mojalefa Mokanya, Indalo is performed by a 22-piece orchestra and 10 storytellers. The story is set in the Eastern Cape and explores the deep and magical relationship between animals and the amaXhosa by weaving together different strands of artistic expression: music, storytelling, physical performance and visual art.

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  • This is an edited version of a media release issued by Buz Publicity. Contact for media queries and interview requests.