September 19, 2018

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Edition 8 is on the streets! Look out for your copy.

The annual public arts festival Infecting the City returns to the city centre between 5 and 8 April, with performances and installations popping up in the streets and various unlikely public spaces.

The festival will present two programmes on different days and audiences may join in at the beginning of each route and walk from one installation to the other. They will be joined by other onlookers who happen upon a performance more spontaneously, while having their lunch break or doing their rounds in the CBD.

Infecting the City has been going for ten years, but in spite of its well-established place on the calendar it has resisted becoming a mainstream event. According to Leila Anderson, who with Khanyisile Mbongwa is curating this year’s festival.

“It has managed to maintain its very independent identity and its ability to surprise. It is not heavily marketed as a tourist attraction. It is very much the goal to provide a programme that makes exciting and unexpected interventions for the people who are using the city on a daily basis,” says Anderson.

The way these interventions bring people together as a temporary audience is a key dimension. “It is very rare in our society for people of different cultures, races, economic backgrounds, to come together in a shared experience. These performances create an audience who are temporarily united in being taken on a journey. in this case a literal journey because of walking from installation to installation,” Anderson adds.

Anderson and Mbongwa adopted a very open curatorial stance this year, allowing artists a lot of initiative to dream up their own ways of intervening in the city. Curatorial ideas have crystallised around the work and in turn the work has been shaped by those ideas. One thread running through many of the pieces “is the idea of participation, cooperation and trust” and the ways of giving the audience “a playful experience of inclusivity”.

A prime example is Spanish street performer Joan Catala Carrasco with Pelat, a performance that combines dance, circus and theatre, in which he brings the audience in and (literally) “puts himself in the hands of strangers”.

Another kind of sharing is offered by Iraqi theatre maker Enkidu Khaled, born in Baghdad and now settled in Belgium. He shares his stories and invites the audience to participate in their own storytelling in Working Method, a workshop-performance in which the process of making theatre is explored.

Local work more than holds its own on the programme. Indoni Dance from Gugulethu, featuring award-winning dancer and choreographer Sbonakaliso Ndaba working with 24 young trainees, presents Ikasi, a performance “characterised by explosive energy”. It is dedicated to the memory of one of their members killed in a random act of violence last year, and explores ideas of danger, unity and safety.

Trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni’s Born to be Black is a celebration of great South African jazz in collaboration with pianist Nduduzo Makhatini, percussionist Claude Cozens and bassist Shakeel Cullis.

Mandla Mbothwe, visual theatre maker extraordinaire, will present Ndabamnye no SS Mendi, a work commemorating the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi during World War I when over 600 Native Volunteer Corps members drowned.

The exciting programme of about 16 works sees one route followed on the Wednesday and Friday and the other on the Thursday and Saturday, starting at 11:00. There is also an evening programme and a workshop programme this year. See http://infectingthecity.com/2017 for more information. 

There is still much to see and do in the city as autumn replaces the summer frenzy

The summer season has definitely given way to a gentler autumn atmosphere this month.

The cultural scene in the city is still lively and full of riches, but with a little more room to breathe and take it all in.

Infecting the City is a public art festival happening from Wednesday 5 to Saturday 8 April with daytime and evening programmes in various interesting spaces in the city centre. This festival is always a highlight and there are some extraordinary artists on the programme this year.

On Thursday 20 April Iziko will host Museum Night, when they invite the public to see their museums ‘in a new light/after dark’. Their advertisement features a wonderfully atmospheric photograph of the gigantic skeletons illuminated in the darkened whale well of the South African Museum, enough to engage anyone’s imagination. Admission is free and children are welcome.

Spirit of the Bush is a new dance piece choreographed and directed by Themba Mbuli, the 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance, at the Artscape Arena from 19 to 22 April. A live score by composer Phil Thurston will be an integral part of the ‘journey back to a time where it all began’. The dance language builds from sensitive trance-like gestures to movements of frenzied intensity.

Afrikaans theatre takes centre stage this month with an extensive festival of local work at Artscape and an international award-winning play in translation at the Fugard. Suidoosterfees showcases work made in the Western Cape from 27 April and is widely inclusive, with every theatrical genre from the one-person show to the ‘choir extravaganza’ and every level of performance from a new talent search to the doyens. A highlight is a personal memoir by Pieter-Dirk Uys titled Weekling van ‘n Wanklank (The Echo of a Noise). See www.suidoosterfees.co.za for more information.

Hemelsruim is a translation of the British play Constellations, to be performed with English subtitles at the Fugard Studio from 25 April. Paul du Toit and Tinarie van Wyk Loots play the two characters, a beekeeper and a quantum physicist, who meet at a party. The New York Times reviewer called it “the most sophisticated date play Broadway has seen” and asked, “Who knew that higher physics could be so sexy, so accessible – and so emotionally devastating?”

Painting is in the spotlight in several of the Woodstock art galleries this month. At the Stevenson, there’s a novel kind of exhibition called A Painting Today in which one painting is added every day until the full complement of 47 are on the walls for the closing event on 22 April. The list of painters is diverse, the idea being that they will ‘mimic the jumble of social media’. At the SMAC Gallery from 12 April Riot is the title of an exhibition of arresting paintings by a Chemu Ng’ok, a young Kenyan artist now living in Grahamstown.

Followers of the comic book universe, anime, gaming and pop culture in general, will most likely be at FanCon - Cape Town’s very own Comic Con from 29 April to 1 May. Geek culture will be celebrated at the CTICC with panel talks, workshops and cosplay competitions.

And in brief: at the Fugard from 18 April is a local production of Funny Girl, made famous by Barbara Streisand in her breakthrough film performance in 1968;

Folk/rock band from Colorado The Lumineers is performing in the Green Point Park on 26 April - tickets are R545;

and Decorex is at the CTICC from 27 to 30 April. 

The first annual South African International Tattoo Convention will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 24 to 26 March, showcasing not only home-grown talent but artists from all over the world representing the likes of Australia, Germany, Ireland, South Korea, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States.

The 200-year-old national museum housing our most valuable historical artefacts in the Company’s Garden will also soon be home to state-of-the-art digital facilities, as the Iziko Planetarium enters a new era of technological advancement and repositions the role of the modern-day museum.

In 1960 Reggie Dreyer auditioned for the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Not being white, meant he was shown the door, despite his talent. But on 7 March 2017, the 74-year-old musician will perform Piano Concerto no 23 in A, K 488 by Mozart with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra as part of Artscape’s lunch-hour concert series. The Mozart classic he will be performing is the piece he played at the audition 57 years ago.

Celebrations of creativity on the cards that include expression in the street, screen and stage.

Locals are in for a treat with the sixth Cape Town International Animation Festival taking place from 2 to 5 March 2017 at the River Club in Observatory.

The Design Indaba is happening from 1 to 4 March. This is the 21st edition of the event and as ever it takes the form of a high-profile international conference, curated by founder Ravi Naidoo, with other more widely accessible events alongside.

Set designer Saul Radomsky’s stellar career ranging from the West End to Broadway and theatres across the globe eventually brought him home to South Africa to fulfil a long-held dream of living in Cape Town. Here he planted roots as set designer at the Fugard Theatre working on diverse productions from David Kramer musicals to small-cast family dramas, and is now preparing for Funny Girl which opens in April.

If terms like botanicals, juniper and fever tree come easily to you and if you know that Musgrave, Woodstock and Hope could all lead to your ruin, then you are clearly well versed in ginspeak and have been following the gin renaissance that has hit international and local shores. But did you know that Cape Town and surrounds are home to two specialist gin bars, a number of craft gin distilleries and around 15 craft gins?

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