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Makhanda takes fuss and freeze out of fest by going virtual


Makhanda takes fuss and freeze out of fest by going virtual

Create a warm, comfy buzz, then head online for the remainder of this year’s iconic National Arts Festival

Tymon Smith

Normally, this is the time of year when arts lovers and performers descend on Makhanda for the annual National Arts Festival. It’s an experience of bitterly cold days spent rushing between venues in the city, while avoiding over-eager drama students on the Village Green heckling you to buy tickets to their fringe shows, hawkers on every corner thrusting scarves, gloves and woolly hats into your face as you trek off breathlessly to your next cultural appointment, before making sure to loudly exchange your critical opinions at the Long Table after a day of theatre, art, dance, film and music, then rushing off to the Standard Bank jazz tent and finally collapsing somewhere for a brief moment of sleep, before waking up and doing it all over again. Or at least that’s what it has been like for decades, but won’t be this year.

Thanks to Covid-19, the festival has gone completely virtual and so all the physical and social activity associated with pilgrimages to the nation’s annual gathering of all things arts-related will be missing. But what isn’t missing is a plethora of multidisciplinary performances to keep your intellectual and cultural needs satisfied from the comfort of your internet connection, and to be enjoyed at your leisure. For a poor approximation of the atmosphere of Makhanda, you can turn off your heating, wrap yourself up warmly and sip on a glass of glühwein in the company of over-talkative relatives who you can take inordinate pleasure in shushing while you delve into the programme. This year it is significantly stripped down, but still offers plenty of new and older selections of art, music, theatre, comedy, dance and jazz to briefly transport you away from the fears and anxieties of the coronavirus and into the worlds created by some of SA’s premier cultural practitioners.

Follow the winners of last year’s Standard Bank Young Artist awards as they present their digital presentations of work created for the festival. Follow the intriguing and fascinating journey of this year’s featured artist, musician Madosini, in a daily 11-part documentary exploring her decades-long career and work as one of the country’s most influential and unique performers of indigenous music...

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