If you’re planning on traveling to Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival this year, get some great shows on your itinerary by snapping up the early bird tickets on sale now.

The full programme only goes on sale on 7 May, but the festival organisers have handpicked a couple of shows to open sales early.

“We’re going to be using the month before we open full booking to turn the spotlight on some of the productions that demonstrate the breadth and depth of this year’s Festival offering,” National Arts Festival CEO Tony Lankester said. “In the mix will be some Festival favourites together with some of the new, innovative work we’re presenting this year, as well as one or two surprises.”

For those who are still on the fence about going to the festival this year, Lankester hopes the early offer of top-notch theatre will sway them in the direction of Grahamstown.

“By going on sale with these shows early we’re giving those who have already made the decision to come to Grahamstown the chance to lock some highlights into their schedule,” he said. “And we’re giving those who haven’t yet made their minds up even more reason to join us.”

Here are the three shows already open for bookings long with their descriptions from the NAF programme:

1. Phuma-Langa by Mamela Nyamza – buy tickets here

Choreographed and directed by this year’s Featured Artist, Mamela Nyamza, the provocative PHUMA-LANGA is presented by The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative.

Our young democracy is at a crossroads at all social levels. Race relations intolerance is at its peak, and our moral fibre as a nation is at its lowest due to political impasse and chronic corruption. This work is a call for a construction of the soul, and indeed a recall for a renewed reconciliation among all South Africans.

Nyamza drew inspiration from the Ndebele culture among other diverse historical South African experiences, as a way of depicting renewed social cohesion. “My hope is to be innovative in this production from the performances to the message I want to get across. I am trying to reach a milestone where we can revive and promote the diminishing good within our various cultures,” Nyamza says.

2. Mary Watson’s Jungfrau by Jade Bowers – buy tickets here

Based on the Caine prize-winning short story from Mary Watson’s collection called Moss, and directed by Naledi award winning director and former Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre (2016), Jade Bowers, JUNGFRAU is a brand-new performance work about families and the secrets that they hide.

The story has been adapted for the stage by acclaimed actress and writer Ameera Patel who was also a Naledi Award recipient for Best Supporting Actress in 2017.

Set in Redhill, Cape Town, before apartheid’s forced removals, JUNGFRAU takes a look behind ‘closed doors’ and uncovers one family’s secrets. All of the characters strive to live by their own unique versions of morality but their reliance and desperate need for each other complicates matters. Evelyn, a young girl longing for her mother’s attention and time, finds herself idolising her aunt Jessica and wanting to please her father, Stephen. Stephen and Jessica try to comfort Evelyn but the lines get crossed and the sins start to boil over…

3. Alphonse by Theaturtle – buy tickets here

Canadian theatre company Theaturtle brings ALPHONSE to the National Arts Festival for its South African debut after touring festivals and theatre stages internationally.
ALPHONSE is lost, walking along a country road, weaving an intricate web of stories, while everyone is searching for him: parents, friends, teachers, the police. What they find is the thing we often give up in order to grow up. A weave of stories within stories, with characters ranging from a regal vacuum cleaner to a melancholy cave. One man, 27 characters, and loads of popcorn!

Picture: Supplied

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