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Koleka Putuma, Sello Maake kaNcube and more set for National Arts Festival 2022

“Hullo, Buy-Bye, Koko, Come In” from Koleka Putuma. picture: Sara CF de Gouveia

“Hullo, Buy-Bye, Koko, Come In” from Koleka Putuma. picture: Sara CF de Gouveia

Published Apr 6, 2022


The world of arts is gearing up for the return of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, after two years of digital and hybrid events.

The 48th National Arts Festival resumes its live format in its home town of Makhanda in the Eastern Cape from June 23 until July 3.

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The festival will re-emerge with a carefully focused and curated experience, enhanced by an irrepressible burst of Fringe spontaneity and creativity where experimentation, expression and visibility will contribute to re-igniting the South African arts ecosystem.

Commenting on the event, artistic director Rucera Seethal says: “There is a broad offering. Yes, we've tightly curated the programme, but also catered for everyone, and included some surprises and provocations too.”

Dance, theatre, visual arts, music, film, illusion and edgy, new cross-genre and interactive art experiences will form part of this year’s programme.

So here’s a preview of the 2022 National Arts Festival Programme

The 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist winners

The 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Thando Doni's new work, “Ngqawuse”, questions the decisions of our past and how those decisions affect us today.

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The play is influenced by the story of the Xhosa prophet, Nongqawuse, whose visions spurred the cattle killings of 1856 and resultant famine.

Borrowing aesthetics from African ritual, music, song and dance, “Ngqawuse” is a story of love and sacrifice, doom and misery and asks questions on what we are left with, what to do with the untreated wounds of our history.

2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Thando Doni. Picture: Supplied

Gavin Krastin (2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art), a resident of Makhanda, is known for creating collaborative opportunities for artists.

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He will stage “12 Labours”, a re-imagining of the “Twelve Labours of Hercules”, in which the conventional masculinities and heroism of old are localised and adapted into 12 acts focused on repairing and maintaining the infrastructure in Makhanda, acts of service as performance art.

Gavin Krastin's 12 Labours. Picture: Evaan Jason Ferreira

Other winners of the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artists, Buhlebezwe Siwani (Visual Art), Cara Stacey (Music), Vuma Levin (Jazz) and Kristi-Leigh Gresse (Dance) will also showcase their new works at the festival.

Koleka Putuma

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With a title inspired by a phrase from the 1992 Brenda Fassie song iStraight Le Ndaba, Koleka Putuma’s poetry collection “Hullo, Bu-bye, Koko, Come In” has been adapted into a stage play of the same title in a multimedia exploration of poetry, sound, and projection mapping.

The piece considers archives, names, lives and legacies of in/visibility, memory, and black women in performance.

Created and performed by Koleka Putuma, the work will also feature visual design by Inka Kendzia and composition and sound design by Mr Sakitumi.

“Hullo, Bu-Bye, Koko, Come In” from Koleka Putuma. picture: Sara CF de Gouveia

Sello Maake kaNcube

Sello Maake kaNcube makes a return to the festival, directing “Bloke & His American Bantu”. Written by Siphiwo Mahala, the two-man play re-imagines the camaraderie between prominent intellectuals, Bloke Modisane and Langston Hughes, writers and activists from Sophiatown and Harlem (New York), respectively.

Performed by the talented duo, Anele Nene (Bloke) and Josias Dos Moleele (Langston), the play shines the spotlight on the role of artists and intellectuals in forging international solidarity during one of the darkest hours in the history of South Africa.

Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra

The Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra will present “Homeland”, bringing together the talents of Timothy Moloi, Gloria Bosman and Monde Msutwana to pay tribute to some of the greatest songs and songwriters from South Africa.

Famous songs by Vusi Mahlasela, Alan Silinga, Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie and Mafikizolo, are given a new life by the Orchestra and soloists.

Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Picture: Facebook

Xolisile Bongwana

Dance piece “Mnquma” is performed by Xolisile Bongwana, with additional choreography from David April, which traces the quest of a man to reconnect to his roots and reclaim the legacy of his ancestors.

"Mnquma' is strongly associated with original music compositions by Bongwana, Elvis Sibeko and No-Finish, a traditional Xhosa musician who achieved much recognition throughout her lifetime and is regarded as the master of uhadi music.

Wezile Harman

Wezile Harman’s performance, “We Regret to Inform You”, explores the notion of a ‘daily hustle’ against the backdrop of South Africa's increasing unemployment rate.

Seen through the stages of our personal vulnerability as individuals living without work, looking for work, getting work, fighting to keep work and losing the position that was supposed to give us stability in the face of disorienting bureaucracies.

The full programme and ticket sales will be available online on the festival website from May 3.