The Cacadu District of the Eastern Cape is the soil from which no fewer than 42 National Arts Festival 2012 Fringe productions have grown this year. Productions from Grahamstown, Paterson, Port Alfred and Port Elizabeth will represent the Cacadu district's rich cultural heritage on the Festival stages.
Grahamstown's UBOM! Eastern Cape Drama Company is staging three productions this year. Eco-Wolf and the Three Pigs, The Dogs Must Be Crazy and Through Blue will showcase the company's much-celebrated talent. The Rhodes Drama Department have five different productions as part of their intranceit 2012 series. Erasure, Hydrolunatics, Rusty Spoons Collective, Tender and The Memory of Water will give audiences a glimpse of the boundaries that the students and their lecturers have been pushing. The Runaway Bunny Collective is another talented company from Grahamstown with two productions, namely Dogyard and WinterSweet.
Villain is a collaborative project of First Physical Theatre Company and Rhodes Drama Department.
Other productions from the City of Saints include As You Were (Doggone-it Drama), Guitar Legends and the Graham Gillot Band, Linda (Ikhaya Theatre Company), Khotso Sethuntsa Returns (Olova Productions), Choosing and Responsibility (Siyaya Theatre Production), World Revolution (Thembani Onceya), Interplay (Thetha Group), Pantsula Van Tuka Af (Via Kasi Movers) and Wordsuntame.
Another exciting Grahamstown initiative is the Fingo Festival, devoted to the creation of a platform within Fingo township for the hosting of workshops and dialogues for children and young people during the mornings of each day of the Festival, followed by afternoon professional performances including dance, music, drama and poetry. The focus this year will be on reflecting on the 200th anniversary of the city of Grahamstown, and on the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress.
Port Elizabeth's Centrestage are bringing five productions to the Festival. Big Band to Hollywood - Buble takes Centrestage, Centrestage's Nuvo Retro Topsy Turvy Music Show, Gino Fabbri and Donna Africa in 'Funni Galore!', Gino Fabbri and Donna Africa in 'Toasted Nuts' and The Tina Turner Songbook.
The ever-popular songbird Meri Kenaz will also be back with Kenaz: A Sight-and-Sound Journey. Another Festival favourite from PE is Sunshine Coast Studios' Bridezilla!. Brendon Peel's Beyond Belief explores the realms of the seemingly impossible, while Mziviki Theatre Company will bring A gift from the stones.
Rounding off the offering from the District's biggest city are Nthathu /Three (Arts in Touch), My Bra se Tjirrie (B&T Productions), Timmy Big Ears (Bethvale Primary School), Plasma (Izandla Productions), Afro-Sessions with Take Note (Take Note), the 2011 SAMA-winning band Ological Studies, as w ell as Shades of Blackness, and the production Shoelace.
Uitenhage (bordering on the Cacadu district) brings to the Festival the Ikhwezi Players with Freedom Blues, and a Spontaneous Reunion by Shukume Theatre. Boet en Swaer will come all the way from Paterson to amuse Festival audiences with their un-PC comedy. Dale McCann will represent Port Alfred with The Frank Sinatra Tribute Show.
"The National Arts Festival is central to the Cacadu District and its positioning as a world class tourist destination," Cacadu District Municipality's Director of Economic Development, Pumelelo Kate said; while the Municipal Manager, Ted Pillay, added that the Festival gives the District a unique opportunity to market itself. "Among the tens of thousands of visitors to the Festival are international producers, festival organisers and directors. By showcasing some of the best South African talent we are helping put the city and our own Festival on the global arts map," he said.