On the eve of 17 August, as the CBD bustled with home-time traffic, theatre lovers huddled together in the Alexander Bar & Theatre parlor for the big reveal of the Cape Town Fringe 2016 programme. With excited anticipation we hung on every word of Festival CEO, Tony Lankester, and Guest Artistic Director, Rob Murray, as they described the magic that awaits Capetonians this September.
This year the festival ambiance is set to match the energetic heartbeat of Cape Town by night, with the CT Fringe being presented as an “evening type experience”, said Lankester. To maximize access to the shows, for the benefit of both audience and performers, the festival organisers decided to adjust show times slightly this year, with the daily programme running from 3pm till late every evening, while retaining the traditional full days over weekends. They have also extended the festival with a week to include the school holiday.
Murray explained that this fresh new vibe, along with the overall eclectic feel of the programme, will be complimented by a wave of “fresh new theatre makers” who will be using the festival as an exciting platform to present their vision. This will present visiting programmers and organisers from other festivals with a great variety of shows to sample.
The programme will showcase 60% local (Western Cape) content, and 10% international productions, with the rest of the shows on the bill travelling from all over the country to entertain audiences. In total there will be 80 diverse and exciting productions on offer. This includes the first documentary film, ‘Disrupt’, to be screened at the festival, along with other thought-provoking productions, such as ‘Songs for Khwezi’, that “will evoke and stimulate dialogue”. With entertainment options not only focussing on traditional theatre, but also including dance, visual and physical theatre, the programme is designed to “plug into a [festival] gap … making it hip and interesting for everyone in Cape Town”, and ultimately creating the perfect setting for a roundtable discussion reflecting on the question, ‘Where are festivals going in the future?’.
It was also announced that this year’s CT Fringe will see the launch of the Buskers Festival at the V&A Waterfront, with international and local performers set to entertain and delight. Lankester explained the showcasing of buskers to be aimed at “building a new tradition to help unlock talent” and introducing “a new platform to recognise such great talent”, as is already the practice in Canada.
The City Hall will once again be the CT Fringe hub, home to 5 venues and the Fringe Club, but festival goers will also be encouraged to go experience theatre in wide variety of different venues they may not have frequented before, as this year the festival footprint will be spread further and wider. In line with this approach of bringing theatre to more areas in Cape Town, the festival will also be partnering with ASSITEJ South Africa for an “outbound” schools’ theatre initiative.
And then the big surprise of the evening…
The magical musical adaptation of the much loved book ‘The Gruffalo’ has entertained audiences from the West End to Broadway. In a surprise announcement on the night, Tony Lankester revealed this hit musical will be making its SA premiere at this year’s festival, with a local twist. It promises to be the standout CT Fringe production, with true South Africa dance moves, flavour and flair, brought to stage by an all Grahamstown cast under direction of Tara Notcutt. There are also plans to stage an isiXhosa version early 2017!
With all this on the cards for the 2016 CT Fringe, there will not be a shortage of great entertainment options… I simply can’t wait for the festival to take over Cape Town from 22 September until 8 October.
Online bookings will open on 22 August, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the mobile app to enhance your #CTFringe experience “on the ground” during the festival. Want to get your hands on a festival programme and start planning your theatre diary asap? Then why not order a pizza from Butler's in September, and get your programme delivered to your door too! It is all that convenient. See you at the festival!