What you need to know about th

Image: Supplied

What you need to know about the 2021 National Arts Festival

The 2021 National Arts Festival will take place in various cities in South Africa from 17 June to 4 July.

What you need to know about th

Image: Supplied

This year, the National Arts Festival (NAF) will bring select shows to art-lovers to four South African cities.

The 2021 National Arts Festival

Residents of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Gqeberha and Durban can look forward to the new Standard Bank Presents programme brought to them by the National Arts Festival in their own city, starting on 17 June and running until 4 July 2021, with a very special hybrid comedy show on 10 July. 

The shows selected for these events include an exciting line-up of new theatre releases, performances by the 2020 Standard Bank Young Artists and a powerful programme of jazz as part of the annual Standard Bank Jazz Festival. 

“It truly is a privilege to be part of the evolution of the NAF, finding new ways to deliver the Festival experience and creating a showcase for talent beyond its traditional home in Makhanda,” said Desiree Pooe, head of sponsorship and events at Standard Bank. “The programme brings a taste of Makhanda closer to these audiences in local venues that they’re familiar with.”

Benjamin Jephta. Image: supplied

What to expect in Cape Town

  • All Cape Town shows will be hosted at Gallery 44, the theatre venue at 44 Long Street. 
  • Children’s show The Magic Shell from Jungle Theatre, will delight families of young children, by stepping into a world where animals and humans are connected.
  • The Jitsvinger Trio’s latest musical collaboration, focuses on the social history and cultural wealth of past generations and how these shared stories create a new musical form that speaks for an entire generation.
  • It’s a day of jazz on Sunday 20 June with Mandisi Dyantyis and Siya Charles on the line-up.
  • Fans of the Fringe will also have an opportunity to buy tickets for a performance that will be recorded for the National Arts Festival Online
  • Based on Credo Mutwa’s The Coming of the Strange Ones, Qondiswa James’ new dance theatre performance Ndinxaniwe, explores the insidious effects of patriarchy and colonial conquest on present-day rural boyhood. 
The Jitsvinger Trio. Image: Supplied

What to expect in Johannesburg

  • Shows take place at The Market Theatre complex, AFDA Red Roof Theatre and Wits Theatre.
  • At Wits Theatre, multi-platinum award-winning singer Lira is on the line-up as part of the festival with her distinct fusion of soul and funk with elements of jazz and African music on 26 June.
  • Catch the new show from Tony Miyambo and Phala O Phala, Commission Continua is an interrogation of South Africa’s various ‘commissions’ such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • See the play The Story Teller of Riverlea at The Market Theatre on 2 and 3 July.
  • Jeremy Nedd and Impilo Mapantsula will stage The Ecstatic, a dance piece which sees six Pantsula dancers interpret the moment or pause… a break in the context of the Christian Pentecostal Church service, where the dancing body, voice and music energetically coalesce and as a result, blurring the difference between ecstatic and cathartic in order to find out, and “break open” a new space that is all their own.
  • More music from the Standard Bank Jazz Festival comes in the shape of South African DJ and producer Sun-EL who is joined by a stellar line-up of musicians who together will deliver a mix of melodic house and afro beats that bring South Africa to the world.
  • Another show to diarise for 27 June (Wits Theatre) is Benjamin Jeptha’s Born Coloured: not Born-free in which he dissects his experience as a so-called ‘Coloured’ and creates music centred around themes important to upbringing and cultural identity.
  • The Oratorio of a Forgotten Youth is an ambitious collaboration by The Brother Moves On in association with the Wits School of Arts, the Resonance String Quartet and the Vivacious Sounds Choir, led by 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, Mandla Mlangeni.
Judith Sephuma. Image: Supplied

What to expect in Durban

  • All shows are happening at the Seabrooke’s Theatre.
  • The Melvin Peters Trio is setting the stage on 19 June. Melvin Peters has performed around the world in different music genres and has worked with many of South Africa’s top musicians, ranging from Abdullah Ibrahim and Winston Mankunku Ngozi to the Free State Symphony Orchestra and the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra. With a repertoire that ranges from mainstream to modern jazz the trio combine solid musicianship with creativity and imaginative improvisatory skills.
  • Afrika Mama’s will be performing Acapella, a celebration of voice and sound. The seven-piece isicathamiya acapella group hails from the area but have performed internationally in Germany, Poland, Belgium, Holland, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Namibia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. They also won the Imbokodo Award at the Isicathamiya Awards in 2019.
  • The Neil Gonsalves Trio will take to stage with Blessings and Blues.
The Neil Gonsalves Trio. Image: Supplied

What to expect in Gqeberha

  • All shows are happening at the Masifunde Learner Academy.
  • On 3 July, Xabiso Zweni and the Masifunde Creative Academy will perform the musical satire Social Disturbing for their show.
  • Also in Walmer, Francois Knoetze’s Core Dump is a four-part video exhibition filmed in Dakar, Kinshasa, Shenzhen and New York that extends the metaphor of a computer crash to the impending breakdown and unsustainability of the global capitalist techno-scientific system. 
  • Also on 3 July, S’bane, from all-women quartet Acapella Narrative will honour our fallen and living legends of music, with a repertoire that comprises of acapella renditions of some of the greatest South African records.
  • You will hear music from the likes of the late Mama Busi Mhlongo, Sibongile Khumalo, Brenda Fassie and our living legendary guitarist/producer Bra Lawrence Matshiza.

For a calendar view of all the events, see the National Arts Festival’s full programme here.