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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

GRAHAMSTOWN JUNE 27, 2008 (article first published : 2008-06-29)

Flew in to Port Elizabeth from a sunny Durban and met with pouring rain! Ah well, it’s Festival – that’s what you come to expect. Remember my oft-quoted line from former Sunday Tribune arts editor Humphrey Tyler – “Dress like an onion with an open mind!”? At least I’d come prepared. Only problem was, the macintosh was packed in the suitcase – how dof can you get?

Grahamstown was already two days into the festival, the official opening having taken place on Wednesday, led by the National Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan. Festival Director Lynette Marais retires at the end of this year’s festival (her 20th) and the front page of Thursday’s Cue, the festival magazine, was devoted to a portrait pic followed by a full-page interview in the body of the publication. The festival is certainly going to miss her pro-active spirit but – as she laughingly jests, she’ll be keeping a firm eye on her successor Ismail Mohamed and festival CEO Tony Lancester.

Rob van Vuuren (probably best known as Twakkie of Cornče and Twakkie fame) is featured in Cue as appearing in no less than 13 productions on the Festival either as actor, writer, director or producer. Must be some kind of record, that!

The posters for Durban actors Liam Magner and Jacobus van Heerden’s productions Spun and Catch! respectively appeared in good eye-catching space in an article discussing what makes for good poster design in a festival such as this. The amount of wall/lamp post space available per production is very limited and so an amiable – although sometimes, it’s not so amiable! – war exists for prime position.

In Friday’s Cue, there was an article on Durban actor Dhaveshan Govender who has two productions on the festival - Jus Pimpin and King of Old Trafford. There was also a photograph of former Durban actor Aldo Brincat, appearing in My Father’s Hat, My Mother’s Shoes. Long slender feet and skinny toes front the photograph of Ellis Pearson in an article with this ever-young Durban actor. He explains his trademark tuft of red hair as being his “insignia as a storyteller”. It was inspired by the storytellers of the indigenous people of North America who had a coloured tuft of hair in the middle of their head. 2008 marks Ellis Pearson’s 25th year-involvement with the National Arts Festival. - Caroline Smart




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