On the Fringe
Did you know?
There are over 200 fringe theatre productions at the festival every year.
Cult South African theatre, also known as on the fringe theatre, can be seen in any one of South Africa's major cities, but undoubtedly the best lesser-known South African theatre can be imbibed at the annual National Arts Festival held in the sleepy Eastern Cape hamlet of Grahamstown.
On the Fringe festivals are well represented in the country, giving less popular South Africa theatres a chance to show off their obscure, experimental wares. Apart from the National Arts Festival, there is also the Afrikaans-language inspired Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn, and the Manguang African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein. Both offer fringe theatre programmes.
In contrast to the festivals' main programmes, fringe theatre is open to all applicants, without pre-selection, which means that the lack of artistic vetting combined with the relatively effortless entry, make risk-taking more feasible, and permit artists to produce a wide variety of interesting works. Some of the most exciting artistic development and dynamic talents in South Africa were first spotted 'on the fringe'.
For the National Arts Festival, participating artists flock from all 9 provinces of South Africa as well as neighbouring Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and even as far afield as the United Kingdom, Argentina, the USA, and the Netherlands. Fringe theatre programmes rewrite the meaning of multi-media, including drama, dance, musicals, physical theatre, poetry, comedy, music, film and visual arts. Professionals, students and community-based artists share fringe theatre spaces, often defying the tenets of so-called 'high art', and lowering the entry threshold for veteran and newbie audience members alike.
In Jo'burg, the Market Theatre Laboratory workshops vibrant fringe theatre with young actors constructing narratives based on their own poignant life experiences. This actors' lab regularly cooks up 'on the Fringe" performances in the less popular South Africa theatres.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
National Arts Festival (Grahamstown)
tel: +27-466-031103, or e.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.