Aardklop festival and the language of art

Die Seemeeu is an Afrikaans translation of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. (Supplied)

Die Seemeeu is an Afrikaans translation of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. (Supplied)

The annual Clover Aardklop National Arts Festival returns with a stronger English programme this year. The cultural festival runs until Saturday October 11. Theatre, dance, music, cabaret, visual arts and a large craft market form part of the Clover Aardklop National Arts Festival, which has been held since 1988 in Potchefstroom, in the North West province. 

Drawing crowds of more than 150 000 people every year, the festival has catered to a predominately Afrikaans audience in the past years but returns this year with a stronger English programme.

Here’s what audiences can look forward to at this year’s event: 

  • Directed by Zane Meas, Ismail Mahomed’s Cheaper than Roses is a heart-warming, unusual, funny and sad story of a woman who did not want to be “cheaper than roses”.
    Lizz Meiring stars as Betty Fourie who returns to her hometown of Bedaarsdorp to find she doesn’t belong anywhere anymore. Betty was born Betty Fortuin, a coloured woman was reclassified white when she turned 18 years old. The play also looks at the trouble Betty faces in the year 1996, two years after the democratic elections. 
  • Malcolm Gooding, Squad Cars narrator and Criminal Minds presenter can be heard imitating Anton Hartman, Pat Kerr and Charles Fortune on Going Gooding – a nostalgic and hilarious look at the golden age of broadcasting. 
  • The Return of Elvis du Pisanie is a Paul Slabolepszy classic, with Lionel Newton as Eddie – a married man from Modderfontein with kids who sells underfloor heating. He decides the only way out is suicide, but when he turns on the radio Elvis Presley, his hero, is singing. Directed by André Odendaal, the play is a poignant look at the journey of a man who reconnects with the future. 
  • French writer Yasmina Reza’s award-winning comedy Art takes a wry look at the nature of friendship, the fault-lines that run through even the closest relationships and the power of art to please, disturb and challenge. Marthinus Basson is the director and designer. 
  • Written by Tertius Kapp, composed by Braam du Toit and directed by Jaco Bouwer, the ambitious Afrikaans comic opera Poskantoor (Post Office) makes its debut at the festival. Set in a small Karoo dorp, it features the vocal gymnastics of Jannie Moolman and Magdalene Minnaar. Grethe, a widow who has quite the reputation in Karkaskraal, is on the verge of leaving this small town, but her plans get delayed when a struggling car guard, Napoleon, declares his love for her. Ronel and Saartjie both work with Grethe at the post office under the watchful eye of Post Master Smit. Smit has his eye on Grethe and feels he also deserves his turn with her like all the other men allegedly had. Suppressed by the men in the office, the three women unite and come up with a cunning plan that the men did not see coming. 
  • Die Seemeeu is an Afrikaans translation of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. Die Seemeeu stars veteran actress Sandra Prinsloo. The theme is timeless: a son wants to make his mother proud, another dreams of fame, others of making peace with the past; but in the end everyone is searching for love, success and fulfilment. Die Seemeeu is directed by Christiaan Olwagen. 

Also at Aardklop, the official festival artist, Gerhard Marx, has numerous solo exhibitions presented from October 7 to 11. Marx’s exhibition, The Garden at Night, includes two-dimensional garden carpets, etches and sculptures in bronze. Underscoring themes of change and decline he incorporates plant material as medium, such as weed, roots and scions. 

The viewer is drawn in by the labour-intensive nature of the work that gives it an intimacy and delicateness. Other artists bringing solo exhibitions are Brahm van Zyl, Catharina Nazzaris, Evette Weyers, Hubert Barichievy, Juria le Roux, Marinda du Toit, Sean Daniel and Susan Grundlingh. 

The full programme is available on www.cloveraardklop.co.za and bookings can be made via Computicket.

Rhodé Marshall

Rhodé Marshall

Rhodé Marshall is the Mail & Guardian's arts, culture and entertainment content producer. She started as a radio reporter and producer in Cape Town, before jumping into online news. When there is chaos, she is the responsible, cool and calm one. With one hand glued to her phone and the other to a can of Coca-Cola, she is a pop culture junkie. And don't you dare write her name without the accent on the e, she will make sure that you know how to do it on every device. Visit her blog: rhodemarshall.co.za Read more from Rhodé Marshall

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