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NAF WINTER SCHOOL (article first published : 2004-06-2)

A living theatre of ideas, the Winter School programme at the National Arts Festival, (Grahamstown 1 to 10 July) feeds the debates that keep South Africa's democracy healthy.

One of the nation's most popular speakers, Judge Dennis Davis, presents two sessions on the constitution. An equally sharp and outspoken social commentator, Peter-Dirk Uys questions the orthodoxy that it is unpatriotic to criticise a democratically-elected government. Charles Goredema gets to grips with money-laundering in southern Africa. Julie Ellison proposes a new politics of cultural knowledge while Mokena Makeba asks, 'Whose heritage is it, anyway?' Bishop Thabo Makgoba elucidates the church's position on land reform.

A number of other talks are aimed at deepening audience engagement with exhibitions and theatre events on the National Arts Festival programme.

Renowned British director Sean Mathias shares the behind-the-scenes processes that produced his adaptation of Antigone. Stephen Gray identifies the problems of adapting Herman Charles Bosman's prison chronicles for the stage. Film festival director Trevor Steel Taylor examines representations of Christ in film. Author Marguerite Poland revisits the research into Nguni cattle culture that informed the now 120-metre long Keiskamma Tapestry and an exhibition of paintings by internationally renowned artist Leigh Voigt. Tony Morphet takes as his starting point Nobel laureate JM Coetzee's decision to move to Australia.

Still on the subject of local production, Richard Haslop (who presents SAfm's popular Roots to Fruits programme) charts his search for the soul in South African music.

Books and publishing are the subject of several other talks. Elinor Sisulu offers insights into the task of playing biographer to her famous ‘in-laws’, Walter and Albertina Sisulu. Jane Austen is Helen Moffett's preoccupation and in her first lecture she analyses recent film versions of Ms Austen's novels. In a second talk she discusses popular novels like Bridget Jones's Diary which play with Austen conventions. Isabel Hofmeyr will talk on John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress in Africa. Louise Vale reflects on the role of Grocott's Mail, South Africa's oldest community newspaper. Renowned children's book writer/illustrator Niki Daly presents and illustrated review of his 40 years of inspired production.

Just for something entirely different, the marathon man Bruce Fordyce explains his claim that movement is a pre-requisite of poetry and physicist Justin Jonas peers through the world's largest telescope that enables us to dig deeper into the secrets of the universe. The ever-popular series of art walkabouts enables festinos to discuss exhibitions with experts.

This feast is proudly brought to you by the East Cape Government, Standard Bank, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and the National Arts Council. Booking for the main programme and the fringe is now open at Computicket or visit the website www.nafest.co.za

For further information contact the National Arts Festival office on 046 603 1103.




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