When you’re told that, over 11 days, more than 100 shows will be descending on the Mother City in South Africa’s newest Fringe Festival, the actions to follow seem simple enough: download programme, choose a show, book, and go. But when the selection is so vast, I don’t even know where to start and this four-step plan is simply easier said than done.
Cape Town Fringe, organised by the National Arts Festival (NAF), is an 11-day festival highlighting and celebrating art in its various forms. The NAF decided that it needed to be more diverse, and in so doing, birthed a festival similar in idea to the annual Grahamstown National Arts Festival. After two years of deliberating, they picked Cape Town as the city in which to run it.
The concept of Fringe originated in Edinburgh in 1947, just after World War II, when a group of independent artists felt excluded from the Edinburgh Festival. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe emerged as a reaction against the then ‘mainstream’, and has since grown into the largest arts festival in the world, with fellow fringe festivals popping up worldwide. It’s characterised by small productions, staged mostly by independent practitioners and differs from conventional arts festivals by giving everyone the opportunity to participate. This open access policy allows work of both the well-established and the obscure to be fostered and supported.
With the City of Cape Town showing its support to the festival, Cape Town’s excellent track record for presenting great theatre, a large and loyal theatregoing audience as well as great potential for growth, I imagine it’ll grow from strength to strength. The hope is for it to eventually become a festival synonymous with what Grahamstown has developed into today. Covering the genres of theatre, dance, performance art, physical theatre, music, comedy, performance poetry and multi-disciplinary works, and with local as well as international works being staged, the Cape Town Fringe is set to be a cultural highlight, and I’m not complaining.
With that being said, after a lengthy perusal of the programme, my tickets are booked. I’ll see you at City Hall.
Download the full festival programme here.
Where City Hall, City Street, CBD; various venues
When 25 September – 5 October 2014
Cost R70–R90 (performance depending)
Contact +27 86 665 7696, www.capetownfringe.co.za