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Many of us are eager to kickstart 2021 and put the strange and difficult year of 2020 behind us. So, how do we begin to reckon with a year of loss, and start anew with a level of hope and excitement for what’s to come? As always, the arts provide a useful way forward.
We’ve put together a short list of the events on the 2021 arts calendar that are helping us dive into the new year.
At the start of the 2020 academic year, UJ Arts & Culture teamed up with Madevu Entertainment and director Janice Honeyman to develop and produce the 2020/21 FADA Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme production Hlakanyana – a retelling of the Zulu folktale. The production was workshopped during South Africa’s national lockdown and will debut at UJ Arts & Culture this 2021. We can’t wait to see it. Keep an eye on Creative Feel for details and performance dates.
MBMS21 – The performing arts festival on Whatsapp
Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative’s annual My Body My Space festival is going completely virtual for its 2021 iteration, harnessing the open and accessible platform of Whatsapp in order to continue to bring performing arts to the people. The festival kicks off in January of 2021. Read all about the festival on a phone, here.
UJ Emerging Artists programme + Willem Boshoff at UJ
2020 saw the launch of UJ Gallery’s Moving Cube platform – a digital counterpart to its physical gallery space. The launch coincided with an exhibition of renowned South African visual artist Willem Boshoff’s Blind Alphabet, as well as the UJ Emerging Artists programme. In 2021, artworks by the ten finalists will be exhibited alongside the Willem Boshoff artworks as part of an envisaged physical exhibition in the UJ Art Gallery. More details here.
KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra Virtual Symphony Season
In response to the global pandemic, both the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) launched their debut online symphony seasons. The JPO’s virtual season took place from 11 November – 4 December 2020, while the KZNPO promises to start 2021 on an excellent note with their virtual season. Keep an eye on Creative Feel for dates and the full symphony programme and read our Q&A with JPO and KZNPO CEO Bongani Tembe about the art of putting together a virtual symphony season.
National Art Festival 2021
Another example of a highlight on the South African arts calendar adapting and embracing virtual tactics, the National Arts Festival (NAF) went entirely virtual in 2020. For the 2021 iteration of the festival, the NAF team are planning a hybrid format where a live physical festival will take place in Makhanda and a virtual online element will run alongside it. ‘The live 2021 Festival is likely to be smaller but we are looking forward to presenting an intimate and focused event that will ensure that both audiences and artists enjoy good value and have the opportunity to safely participate in our multidisciplinary live and online programmes,’ says the NAF team. The 2021 NAF will take place over 11 consecutive days in July. Keep an eye on Creative Feel for more details.
The Head & the Load
William Kentridge’s large-scale theatre work The Head & the Load will be seen for the first time in Africa at Joburg Theatre. Originally scheduled for the first half of 2020, the production was subsequently postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will now take place in September of 2021. This internationally acclaimed exploration of Africa’s role in the First World War illuminates the largely untold story of the millions of black African porters who served British, French and German battlefield forces. Nhlanhla Mahlangu, Mncedisi Shabangu, Ann Masina, and Gregory Maqoma are just a few of the performers involved in the work, which we can’t wait to see. Read our interview with Kentridge about The Head & the Load here.