Cape Town - As wild flowers bloom in and around Darling, organisers of the Voorkamerfest are preparing for the town’s unique annual performing arts event to take place on the first weekend of spring.
The Voorkamerfest, now in its ninth year, sees 21 original performances staged in residents’ homes – whether or not they have a “voorkamer” (front room).
However, being invited into residents’ homes to see a world-class show is not the only unique aspect of this festival.
The event is designed around the element of surprise as ticket holders do not know what shows they are going to see.
Even the homeowners who volunteer their sitting rooms as venues don’t know which artist they are to host for the weekend until a few hours before the first performance.
Rather than buying tickets to see specific shows, festival-goers buy a ticket for a performance route.
A maximum of 26 people are accommodated on one of seven routes and are picked up by a local taxi that transports them to a series of three different shows in three different homes before returning them to Evita se Perron, the festival hub in the theatre owned by satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys.
The small town becomes a hive of activity as local taxi owners buzz festival-goers from show to show between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, as diverse acts are performed by artists who are nationally and often internationally recognised.
Shows range from mime to cabaret and comedy to drama, with artists this year including comedian Anne Hirsch, musician Koos Kombuis and award-winning young director Tara Notcutt in a rare solo performance.
Coming all the way from The Netherlands are musician Anne van Veen and dramatists from the Matzer theatre company.
While the festival integrates communities across a town divided by apartheid spatial planning, and creates short-term job opportunities, R5 of every ticket sold goes to the Darling Trust which works towards education and upliftment in local communities.
The festive, child-friendly atmosphere of the Voorkamerfest weekend is enhanced by outside entertainment and arts, crafts and food stalls at Evita se Perron.
The town also has a number of restaurants and coffee shops that will be open for the duration of the festival.
This year it takes place over the weekend of August 31 to September 2, with performance routes scheduled for 6pm on Friday, noon and 5pm on Saturday and noon on Sunday.
Tickets are R195 a person for the Friday evening route and R225 a person for all other routes.
Additionally, a free concert will be staged on the Sunday at 3pm when the participating artists come together for a final bow and highlights package.