Fun for the family at Festival



Chelsea Jonkerman acts in the show, The Calabash Children at Memory Hall in Grahamstown on 4 July 2016 at the National Arts Festival. The show was is based on a traditional tanzanian folk-tale (Photo: CuePix/Jeffrey Stretton-Bell)

Families are in for a treat this Festival with two new Family Fare venues bursting with fun.

The new NELM building in Worcester Street boasts a profusion of activities for the young at heart including two (free) daily stories read by actors and others in their beautiful story amphitheatre at 10.30am and 3.30pm every day.

NELM also plays host to talks on various parenting issues with local experts Nicky Turner, Zintle Phekana and Cathy Gush advising on children’s rights, nutrition issues and literacy development respectively (Festival programme page 140).

There are also workshops for young people.

Jeannie McKeown offers creative writing workshops for 6-15-year-olds, Drama for Life offers 4-6-year-olds the opportunity to explore travel in Jiggles and Journeys (page 141), and Klara van Wyk and Buhle Ngaba provide some fun with clowning workshops.

Plus there are productions galore in the NELM theatre specifically aimed at young people.

Granny Susan Incredible directed by Toni Morkel (page 151), Rat Race, a smash-hit from 2016 from Kyla Davis (page 153), Zina and the Songbird by the Ubom! Theatre Company (page 154), and the hysterical Jitterbugs – written by primary school children and performed by adults (page 153).

‘Zina and the Songbird’ is presented by the Ubom1 Eastern Cape Drama Company and directed by Brink Scholtz. This children’s play involves a misfit princess who befriends a songbird who can’t sing. Photo: CUEPIX/Sarah Schäfer

Zina and the Songbird – Ubom! (Photo by Paul Greenway)

 At the NELM outdoor amphitheatre, the Jungle Theatre public art offering in 2017 is When Lion Had Wings – a beautifully crafted re-telling of a Khoi Khoi myth about overcoming fear and taking back personal power. They use masks, puppets, stilts, music and the Nama language to tell this universal story (page 81).

There’ll be a coffee shop at NELM and if you haven’t yet had a good look at South Africa’s newest Green Building, come along and check it and its beautiful indigenous gardens out!

Nompumelelo Community Centre in Joza is a brand, spanking new venue owned by Grahamstown’s Child Welfare – easy to get to, with secure parking, this township venue is home to loads of family productions, story time (daily at midday in isiXhosa), workshops and talks – including Kathryn Court’s Parenting and Protecting talk (page 140) and Drama For Life’s Dance it Out jive workshop (page 145).

Across the square from Nompumelelo is Noluthando Hall – home, in 2017, to The Gruffalo – Grahamstown’s own production that received rave reviews and loads of sold out shows in Sandton.  If you haven’t taken your youngsters to this show yet, now’s the time – the venue is just off Raglan Road and there’s plenty of security. Book early to avoid disappointed faces at home (page 83).

Memory Hall hosts Bethdale Primary’s The Calabash Children (page 151), UJ’s re-telling of the classic James and the Giant Peach (p84), Slick n Sleeve’s enchanting medieval tale, Spellbound (p154), Zikka Zimba Hijinks Theatre’s imaginative Taking Flight (p154) and the amazing, 1000-year-old wizard, Wacky, returns for more interactive fun (p154).

Rob van Vuuren performs in the children’s show, Florence and Watson and the Sugarbush Mouse, in Grahamstown, Saturday, 2 July 2016, at the National Arts Festival. The play is an adaption of the children’s book as told by two honey badgers. It tells of a little mouse who has special talents to pollinate flowers in a desperate time of need. Photo: Cue Pix/ Jodi vanVuuren

Kingswood Theatre boasts Rob van Vuuren and Dani Boschoff’s inspiring tale of Florence and Watson that’s just returned from a very successful run at Brighton Fringe (p151), and Masonic Hall presents Anex Theatre Production’s absurdly funny musical, The Nose (p153).

Drama For Life’s Creative Hub at The Library Hall presents Space Rocks (for small people) and Insta-Grammar, Maimane!, and Kasi Stories for tweens and teens (p66); and Fingo Festival at Fingo Square is dominated by children’s activities between 10am and 1pm every day (p85).

Roberto Pombo during the production of Rat Race at The National Arts Festival on 30 June 2016 in the Oatlands School Hall, Grahamstown, South Africa. The production was directed by Kayla Davis. Photo: CuePix/Megan Moore

Take your daughters to see You Suck and other Inescapable Truths at Princess Alice Hall – great for Grades 7-10, it’s a teenage truth-telling about school, boys, the popular groups and trying to fit in. Laugh out loud fun with Klara van Wyk as the indomitable Pretina de Jager  (p205).

 The National Youth Wind Orchestra’s Children’s Concert in the Monument’s Fountain Foyer offers young and old the chance to ‘meet’ the instruments of an orchestra – performed by the wind ensemble from the National Youth Orchestra this promises to be a wonderful and inspiring hour of music played by children for children – and it’s free! (p23)

Zihle Ndikatuba plays in the Children’s Concert with the National Youth Wind Orchestra.

There’s lots of other productions that are suitable for the whole family – look out for the ‘All ages’ symbol in the Festival Programme – or give them a call if you want to make sure – 046 603 1163. The Box Office is open at the Monument Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 6pm and on Saturday mornings from 9am to 1pm. Or you can book online at

The Festival is helping Grahamstown’s Child Welfare celebrate it’s 100th anniversary this year by offering all Festinos the chance to add a little value to the lives of Grahamstown’s welfare children by making a donation when they purchase their tickets. Please help us to lighten the load of this incredible local organisation.

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