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NAF WINTER SCHOOL (article first published : 2008-06-14)

Leading international theatre critics will head an open discussion forum during the National Arts Festival which is to take place in Grahamstown from June 26 to July 5, 2008. Local critics, theatre practitioners and members of the public will also take part.

During another session, the visiting critics will discuss the outcome of an international symposium on The Psychology of Violence and Forgiveness on World Stages. The symposium was organized by the 2,000 strong International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC). A South African section of the IATC is to be launched during the Festival. These events are all presented with the kind assistance of Business Arts South Africa (BASA).

Once again the popular Looking at Art Walkabouts will afford audiences another opportunity to engage in one-to-one discussion with critics and arts experts as they tour the main exhibitions. Many of the other talks and presentations on the Winter School programme are certain to stimulate broader debate.

Writer/researcher Antony Altbeker looks at the way in which our national culture is implicated in and affected by violence. Jody Kollapen, who chairs the South African Human Rights Commission, asks whether the vision of equal rights for all is still viable in a world dominated by globalisation and market-led economies. Using soccer as a metaphor, Ashwin Desai suggests how we can change the rules of contemporary public life so inequality is not simply reinforced. Arts critic and author of Primary Coloured Brent Meersman takes a mischievous look at South African politics as a theatre production in which fact becomes fiction and vice versa

In two sessions, Judge Dennis Davis and Advocate Michelle le Roux will discuss the use and abuse of law in South Africa. The charismatic Davis also chairs a Legal Resources Centre Panel titled The Right to Education, during which participants will look at what citizens can do about the state of our schools.

Identity is the subtext for talks by Abdulkader Tayob and Sandile Memela. Tayob believes that Islamic politics in South Africa is dominated, on one hand, by a desire for self-representation and, on the other, by visions of utopia. Memela tackles what he calls "Coconut Intellectuals" who misrepresent African opinion for self-gain. Looking at the proliferation of talk radio and TV, Deborah Posel reminds us that the freedom to speak out is closely connected to democracy.

Three different angles on China are presented by Clem Sunter, Darryl Accone and Robert Berold. Sunter discusses China's game-plan in Africa; Darryl Accone explains how it feels to be part of Africa's largest and oldest Chinese community; while Berold's talk and slide show captures the flavour of his year in China.

Terry Kurgan's talk will be illustrated by photographs as she describes a new collaborative project called Hotel Yeoville, dealing with migration and the reconfiguration of the culture and built environment of Johannesburg. Andrew Feinstein explains how the global arms deal functions and why it has undermined our democracy. Gary Baines looks at how the meaning and memories of our "Border War" have been renegotiated during the country's transition.

Millionaire inyanga Khotso Sethuntsa's biographer, Felicity Wood, explains his work and some of the supernatural presences he was said to control. Writer Bridget Hilton-Barber (Garden of my Ancestors) will examine the memoir as an important South African literary genre. Sarah Nuttall and Liz McGregor talk about the importance of personal narratives in a public world which is rough, brutal and often polemical. Leonie Joubert focuses on the details a few vulnerable South African communities, as she explains what climate change could mean to us all. And to round off the programme, that fearless adventurer and fabulous raconteur Riaan Manser takes us Around Africa on my Bicycle. He spent two years and seventy-five days pedalling round the continent and his experiences hold audiences spellbound.

The National Arts Festival is proudly supported by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and The National Arts Council. For further information contact 046 603 1103 or visit the website www.nationalartsfestival.co.za

Get hold of the free Festival Booking Kit, now available from selected Standard Bank branches and Computicket outlets nationwide.




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