Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trip to Grahamstown - Sometimes the beauty we are looking for is under our noses.

I jumped out of the car on my way to the Festival to take a photo of the mist, hanging low over the valley and creating one of those surreal landscapes that make you believe that its the sea you are looking at and not the sky - I looked down to check my footing and found this jewelled spider web waiting for me, the earth laying its treasure at my feet - WOW!

On Friday I made my annual pilgrimage to Grahamstown to feed my artistic soul and take part in the biggest show in Southern Africa  - the Grahamstown Arts Festival. Yes - I know - Last year I said I was going to stay over and see three shows a day in my cerise and black floral palazzo pants! Life and work got in the way so it was an early start with pies as usual for breakfast, eaten in the same car park under a wintry sun. not just any pies - those pies from Nanaga Farm Stall that acts as a magnet to most cars - impossible to drive past at any time of year!
The  promise of three shows a day that was vowed last year was a reality though and we arrived to watch our first, Two Women - Two Worlds starring Val McLane, senior UK actress from the North East of England, and Nomhle Nkonyeni, premier South African actress from the Eastern Cape, comparing and contrasting their lives in different countries on two different continents. Fabulous Festival Fare! It finished at 12 noon and our next show started at 12 noon so we flew to the next venue to see - David Newton our favourite comedian. We arrived to a packed venue and found ourselves sitting in the aisle staring up at a blow up doll and laughing ourselves silly at this very talented South African comedian. He told us that he now lives in LA - not sure if he was joking - but if its true, its very sad that SA has lost this comic genius.
Of course his show was about the messiness, the impossible mechanics and the embarrassment of  sex and the audience lapped it up! Phew! We had an hours break before our next show so we headed up to the Village Green to park our car and as tempted as we were by a quick preview, we made our way to St Andrews Drill Hall so we could get a good seat for the highlight of our day London Road.

This amazing piece of theatre was performed last year to sold out audiences and this year too - there were people queuing just in case there were any no-shows or begging to sit in the aisle or watch from the sides. It is a beautifully written play set in Sea Point, about the unlikely friendship of an aging South African, white, Jewish widow Rosa and  Stella a young, black, illegal immigrant from Nigeria.  Robyn Scott and Ntombi Makhutsh portray these characters to perfection and  took us on a journey that made us laugh, cry, think, question and celebrate life and friendship. They well deserved their standing ovation and I feel really privileged to have watched it.
Then it was time for coffee and the Village Green - our very own Vuvotela were on site to serve us our favourite cappuccinos with just the right amount of caffeine and froth to get us around the stalls.
This year the was the usual mind boggling array of headgear to add to the collection and plenty of handmade crafts and eats to carry home. My eclectic purchases include tin mugs with attached mug hugs, a pretty pendant that will protect me from harm and evil spells, a crocheted flower broach, black and white spotted slipper socks, home made fudge and almond nougat and a cosy bob hat or is it a tea cosy?

Time for home and to reflect on not just another year's festival finished, but the creative spirit of Africa that dwells in our region and the incredible talent we have in this country. If only that talent extended to driving skills our day would have been perfect!
But that's a story for my next blog!

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