Multi-venue Cape Town Fringe Festival Aims to Mirror Cape Town's Complexity
The Cape Town Fringe, which opens on 21 September, is 'staying relevant by going local', according to its executive producer, Ashraf Johaardien. With a revised format and fresh new focus, the 2017 edition of the Cape Town Fringe sees its organisers working hand in hand with independent theatres across the Mother City to present a programme of work that is innovative and inspired.
Expanding to fourteen performance spaces in the Cape Town metropolitan area, the Fringe will be putting theatre at the centre of the Cape's communities, while giving audiences and artists the opportunity to expand their horizons. With the Fringe Club located at the German Club in Gardens this year, venues include the Alma Café in Rosebank, AFDA in Observatory, the Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre in the Foreshore, the Black Box Theatre in Delft, the Jolly Carp in Retreat, the Makukhanye Art Room in Khayelitsha, the Theatre Arts Admin Collective in Observatory, iThemba Labantu in Philippi, the Zolani Sport and Recreation Centre in Nyanga and the University of Cape Town's Little Theatre, Arena Theatre, P4 Studio and Bindery Lab on Hiddingh Campus in Gardens.
Johaardien says the Fringe has evolved a 'hyper local' model that has given rise to new partnerships between theatre-makers, producers, venues and the Cape Town Fringe:
We've spent a lot of time listening to the arts community and have developed a collaborative approach to programming the Fringe that manages to keep the programme fresh and exciting while also creating opportunities to view our world through a lens of authenticity. There is a huge appetite for theatre in Cape Town and there are lots of producers, artists and venue owners and administrators who are working hard to create work and spaces for it. By its very nature, fringe theatre is edgy, independent and groundbreaking. In working with these small theatres this year, we feel the fringe concept is truly being realised.
Johaardien points out that the new model offsets the loss of the iconic City Hall, currently undergoing renovation work, as a Fringe Hub:
While we'll be sad not to be using the City Hall, the change has challenged us to rethink where we put the centre of gravity of the Fringe. What we've put in place gives us multiple access points, making the Cape Town Fringe accessible to a far broader range of communities than before.
The Cape Town Fringe, the newest member of the prestigious World Fringe Alliance, received a record 268 submissions this year of which a third have been matched to venues and will be presented as 80 productions throughout the three-week festival across theatre, dance, music, comedy, illusion with a range of genre-busting works in between. The programme, which runs during the school holidays, also includes family theatre.
The Fringe also includes the Cape Town Busker's Festival. Taking place daily at the V&A Waterfront from 5 - 8 October, the line-up sees local and international street performers working the hat with highly physical and entertaining acts.
Alderman JP Smith of the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security for Events comments on the City of Cape Towns involvement in the Cape Town Fringe:
The City of Cape Town is a proud supporter of the Fringe festival. I am amazed at how the festival has grown and developed in a short space of three years. It is quite a niche event that gives up and coming performers the platform to showcase their talent in the arts. Importantly, in a truly inclusive manner, it takes the theatre to the people by hosting performances at venues around the metro making the event accessible to even more communities. While our very own home-grown talent will dominate the festival, some international performers will form part of the mix. I urge our local artists to come out in their numbers and wow the audiences. This could just be the big-break you have been waiting for.
Hazel Chimhandamba, Head of Sponsorships at Standard Bank, notes:
The Cape Town Fringe, although still young in years, has certainly made its mark on the Mother City's cultural landscape and has succeeded in attracting younger audiences, while also giving new and emerging talent a platform to showcase their work and for audiences, new and old, to be entertained and inspired.
The programme is live on the Cape Town Fringe website, with printed copies being circulated with various Cape Town publications. The programme will also be distributed to coffee shops, restaurants, theatres and community venues across the city. Tickets can be bought online via the secure platform on the website or by using the free Cape Town Fringe app for iOS and Android. Tickets will also be available at the door to each performance.