Are you a frustrated thespian with a play burning a hole in your pocket? Perhaps a seasoned professional drowning in corporate gigs and yearning for the magic of the stage? A wannabe, gottabe music sensation in the making… a community group looking to take the world by storm? Then the National Arts Festival Fringe is where you could find fame and glory in 2016. Registration is now open for Africa’s largest open-access Festival, which will take place in Grahamstown from 30 June until 10 July.
“We’re looking for actors, singers, comedians, poets, and anyone who wants to show off their talent to an appreciative and knowledgeable audience,” Fringe Manager Zikhona Monaheng said.
The Festival’s website at www.nationalartsfestival.co.za contains all the necessary info guides and application forms, and registration is open until 15 January 2016. For the first time this year, the Festival is offering those who apply before 15 December this year an early bird discount.
“The Fringe is South Africa’s only truly open platform for artists – there is no selection process and everyone who believes in their work is welcome to take part,” Monaheng said. “It attracts artists from all over South Africa and from across our borders. International representation at the Fringe has grown steadily since the inception of the World Fringe Alliance – of which the National Arts Festival is a founding member. The Alliance is responsible for bringing in producers from Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Prague, Brighton, Perth, Adelaide and New York looking for work to showcase at their festivals, creating scope for productions to extend their footprint beyond 11 days in Grahamstown to countrywide tours and international seasons.
It’s not easy, though, notes Festival Artistic Director Ismail Mahomed. “With over 400 production companies vying for the spotlight it can be a tough couple of weeks. But with careful marketing, a good concept, and, above all else, a fabulous production to set tongues wagging, productions can increase their chances of success.”
Another part of the charm of Grahamstown is the opportunities it offers artists – both those new to the game and old hands. “The Fringe offers artists the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with fellow artists, directors, producers – and many a partnership has been formed over a beer at the Long Table. With everyone on an equal footing on the Fringe, artists can learn from each other, swap stories, offer advice, and make connections that can sometimes have a lasting effect on their professional careers,” Monaheng said.
The National Lotteries Commission has supported the Fringe for a number of years, and their contribution helps keep access to the Fringe open and lowers the economic barrier to entry, says Mahomed.
“Festivals in general are a great showcase opportunity for our artists, and the Grahamstown Fringe in particular plays such an important role in the careers of so many artists,” he said. “The Lottery’s support of it is predicated on widening access and allowing as many artists as possible to take the stage.”
So – make 2016 the year. Head off to the website, read the info guides, and take a leap of faith. We’ll see you from the bleachers in Grahamstown next year – 30 June to 10 July 2016.
Fringe Info guides and application forms are now available from www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/artist-zone for visual art, theatre, film and contemporary music. Chat to the Fringe Team on 046 603 1103/ 1177 or email them – firstname.lastname@example.org