Arts Alive highlights power of creativity in democracy

“The festival prides itself in bringing together a wide range of audiences, united by their love of the arts. We wish to celebrate 20 years of freedom and remind people how important the arts are in improving the quality of our lives, and giving us a voice,” says Lesley Hudson, programme director of the Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival. 

Now in its 22nd year, the annual music, dance, art, poetry and drama festival kicked off with Jazz on the Lake on Sunday August 31, and runs until September 10, with events taking place in all seven regions of Johannesburg.  With theatre as this year’s focal point, the premium events will be hosted at the Joburg Theatre.  

Not to be missed is the music show Divas In Democracy, featuring international and local female musicians such as Tania Maria (Brazil), Nancy Viera (Cape Verde), Isabella Novella (Mozambique) and Lulu Dikana (South Africa). The festival’s “20 years of democracy” theme provides a framework for the featured productions, addressing themes such as freedom, reconciliation and diversity. 

The comedy-drama Three Perfect Couples, exploring the friendship between three married couples, will be showing at Thusong Youth Centre. “It’s witty and also touches on the journey of love, deceit, respect and commitment in a marriage,” says cast member Nobuhle Mahlasela. “The audience can expect to laugh, learn a lot about sacrifices one has to make when you’re married, and good entertainment.” 

Actors Seputla Sebogodi and Martin Le Maitre will take to stage at the Market Theatre in Lewis Nkosi’s Mating Birds, which was awarded the Macmillan Silver Pen Prize in 1986, and tells the story of Mr Ndi Sibiya, a Durban-born South African who becomes obsessed with a young white girl whom he encounters on a segregated Durban beachfront. Sibiya’s obsession with the young girl lands him in jail. He narrates the story from prison, while he waits for his sentencing. 

Other shows to look out for are the spoken works and beat poetry production Speak The Mind, showing at the Joburg Theatre and the SEAexpo (Showbiz, Entertainment & Arts Expo) on at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre. The festival line-up also incorporates the Dance Umbrella programme with highlights that include Lonely Together – a contemporary dance collaboration by Gregory Maqoma and Spanish Roberto Olivan; the Dance Forum production dance piece Cargo: Precious and Les Nuits (The Nights), choreographed by Frenchman Angelin Preljocaj, features 18 dancers from Ballet Preljocaj. 

“The festival aims to provide residents who previously were denied access to high quality arts an opportunity to see the best of local, African and global performers,” says Hudson. 

Visit the website for programme details and more information.

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