Playful Wordfest is here!
The 11th and biggest Wordfest (Woordfees) is here! This national arts festival of Stellenbosch University (SU), which draws festival-goers from all over the country and even from abroad, boasts more than 200 productions and 250 presentations this year. The Wordfest is held from 1-7 March.
Click here for a list (in Afrikaans) of the productions for which tickets are still available.
“This year’s theme, ‘Baljaar’ (to play boisterously) – proposed by Prof Rufus Gouws, Chairperson of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch – is, of course, a play in Afrikaans on our country’s year of the ball: the year that we’re hosting the Soccer World Cup,” says Prof Dorothea van Zyl, Wordfest Director. “This is why, this year, we also have the sub-theme ‘Sport and Sports’.”
“And part of the sports will be to try and choose from among the many productions,” adds Eduard Rosenstrauch, Wordfest Project Manager. “With the Wordfest’s unique emphasis on the word, you’ll be able to pick and choose where the written word is concerned. In addition, the programme is filled to brim with music productions, cabarets, dramas and art happenings.”
Writer’s Fest (Skrywersfees)
“Highlights of the Writer’s Fest,” says Melt Myburgh, Word Art Project Manager, “are Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, who will introduce her new cookery book, Evita se Kossie Sikelela, and, of course, the ever-popular Writer’s Gala (Skrywersgala). But,” he adds, “the Afrikaans horizon is filled with new voices. The Wordfest is, after all, known for giving new generations of writers, dramatists and poets their own place in the sun with great success. For a number of these productions and discussions, tickets are still available.”
The Wordfest also honours great names in Afrikaans every year. This year, it is the turn of André P. Brink, Philip de Vos, Petra Müller, Pieter Fourie and Peter Snyders.
Other writers who will be romping along include storyteller PG du Plessis, prose writer and dramatist Rachelle Greeff, suspense writer Deon Meyer, new-on-the-scene Toast Coetzer, narrator-of-stature Dana Snyman and sharpshoot-writer Riana Scheepers. As always, members of the public will also have the opportunity to hone their talents at the Sanlam|LitNet SkryfNet: Sketch Writing School, at which Dana Snyman, Martie Retief-Meiring and Elias P Nel will give advice on how to write a sketch both with humour and with substance.
“At the Wordfest, we talk – mostly with honesty and forthrightness – but also in jest and even mockingly. So festival-goers can ready themselves again for a strapping slam or two,” says Prof van Zyl.
Some of the participants include Rachelle Greeff, who will discuss her successful drama, Die naaimasjien, Koos Kombuis, who will talk with Toast Coetzer about his sensational debut novel, Naweek, the seasoned suspense writer Deon Meyer, who will quiz Karin Brynard about her debut, Plaasmoord, Desmond Painter, who will chat with Bettina Wyngaard, who, through her novel Troos vir die gebrokenes, gives singular insight into a rural coloured community, and South Africa’s well-known and loved ‘green’ personality Dave Pepler, who will discuss his book, Immergroen.
The Wordfest will also, once again, be welcoming the RSG team, which will broadcast its news programmes live from the Plataan Café behind the Sasol Art Museum. Here, Freek Robinson will man the microphone for a series of compelling discussions. Some of the themes include ‘Whose Soccer World Cup is it?’ and ‘Is there still place for “serious” literature in Afrikaans?’.
And what is a word festival without a language symposium? This year, the theme is ‘Afrikaans and multilingualism at university level’, presented by the Adam Tas Student Society I-Mag, Tabema and the Foundation for Empowerment through Afrikaans. Participants include Christo van der Rheede, Anton van Niekerk, Marlene Verhoef, Nico Koopman and Marius Swart.
Stalwarts on this year’s Conversations programme again include the Philosophy Café (Filosofiekafee) with SU’s foremost philosophers, who will tackle one another in the spirit of the Soccer World Cup, and the annual Neerlandistiekdag (supported by the Nederlandse Taalunie, the Kaapse Forum vir Neerlandistiek, the Van Ewijck-Stigting and the Fonds Neerlandistiek), a fascinating day with students from various universities, filled with informative talks on and interviews with Dutch writers and artists.
Theater van de verloren tijd, with Dorith van der Lee and Sjon Brands, is a special performance by this Dutch group from Tilburg, an interactive experience centred on well-known Flemish and Dutch poems. The group members know no less than 500 poems off by heart! The members of the Theater van de verloren tijd challenge you: give them a word and they will answer you with a poem!
In Sokker = voetbal: Clubcultuur in Vlaanderen, festival-goers will come to know more about the very interesting cultural differences among the big soccer clubs in Flanders.
A highlight of the Conversations is Voice from Zimbabwe: Shimmer Chinodya. This award-winning Zimbabwean writer is a special guest of the Wordfest this year and will talk to Annie Gagiano about his career as one of the continent’s most successful writers.
A new addition is a select group of law experts from the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Law, who will discuss, in Afrikaans, law issues that affect us all.
“A big festival needs big names,” says Eduard. “Big both in name and in person is former Springbok Kobus Wiese, who, this year, will be but one of the people who will be gracing our festival of sport presentations. In conjunction with SuperSport, a Rugby Legends Dinner, where festival-goers will be able to meet rugby icons like Mannetjies Roux, Jan Boland Coetzee, Dawie de Villiers, Theuns Stofberg and Errol Tobias, will also be held. The Mystic Trio, Ollie Viljoen, Pietman Geldenhuys and Valiant Swart will take care of the music. And, with this, we will finally be hitting for a six the idea that the Wordfest caters more for the needs of women!”
Drama Fest (Dramafees)
New on the menu is the Sanlam Drama Fest, with some of South Africa’s best-known actors making an appearance. Antoinette Kellerman, Willem Anker, Deon Coetzee, Marius Weyers and Ben Kruger will take to the stage, while South Africa’s own Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, Dowwe Dolla and Lizz Meiring will together be slaying an entire herd of holy cows.
Pieter-Dirk Uys, Elzabé Zietsman, Amanda Strydom and Virginia Davids, among others, will make appearances in the Cabaret and Concert Series. And the nagKAT, a free, late-night entertainment tent near the Plataan Café, will make its presence felt – and heard – this year.
The Aan de Braak Festival will also provide entertainment with productions like Lazuma! 2010 and Ons Sokkerrepubliek 2010.
Click here for more information on the Drama Fest.
Music Fest (Musiekfees)
On the music front, from the most hardened of rockers to the greatest of connoisseurs of classical music will feel at home at this year’s Wordfest. The ever-popular Stef Bos, Coenie de Villiers, Niël Rademan, Jannie Moolman and Lize Beekman will tug at the heartstrings, while Klopjag, Abel Kraamsaal, Chris Chameleon, Jan Blohm and Die Heuwels Fantasties will strut their stuff on stage. The always well-attended pops show, this year known as the ‘Baljaar Bonanza’, boasts André Schwartz, Sarah Theron, Timothy Moloi, Sterling EQ and the SU Symphonic Orchestra. The internationally renowned contrabassist Leon Bosch will appear with the SU Symphonic Orchestra, while Zanne Stapelberg, Minette du Toit-Pearce, André Howard, André Serfontein and the Libertas Choir will entrance those with music in their hearts.
The Beyerskloof Music Marathon is also new on the scene. Koos Kombuis and Hunter Kennedy will team up, while Zinkplaat and Tidal Waves will also join forces. Blues en Susters is a production with Anna Davel, Ollie Viljoen, Schalk Joubert, Lou-Ann Stone and Kevin Gibson.
This year, students will really and truly no longer be able to complain that the Wordfest does not cater for them. Apart from the Beyerskloof Music Marathon, there will be the Neelsie Geraas innie Gat with Die Heuwels Fantasties, Pierre Greeff, Hunter Kennedy and Johnny de Ridder. There will also be a debate festival and an intergenerational discussion on a vision for South Africa. At the Student Representative Council (SRC) Fest, the SRC will again present the Ketel Prize for a Battle of the Bands of world-cup format with some of the Bosch’s best student bands entering the battle. And then there are the SRC Cultural Evening, 30 Seconds, the Maties Drum Café and Mensverf (body painting) on the Red Square.
Yet another new event, only one of many this year, is a stylish Baljaar Ball in aid of the Words Open Worlds (WOW) project, which reached about 17 000 learners in the Western Cape in 2009. With Evita Bezuidenhout as hostess and the Johnny Cooper band and Niël Rademan performing, this super-luxury ball cannot but be a resounding success.
Arts Fest (Kunstefees)
The art section of the Wordfest has come to be regarded in art circles as an important showcase of South African art, says Wordfest Curator, Amanda Botha. “It’s easily the largest art exhibition at any arts festival presented annually in South Africa.” The art programme includes walkabouts, exhibitions by North West University and the University of the Free State, a lecture series on art for the private collector and a special exhibition of the artist Nina van der Westhuizen in which various aspects of Pieter-Dirk Uys’s alter ego, Evita Bezuidenhout, are explored. Read more here (in Afrikaans).
The internationally celebrated sculptor, Andries Botha, is this year’s Wordfest artist. “This will be the first time that his work is exhibited in the Western Cape and only his second solo exhibition over the last 15 years in South Africa. He’s recently received world acclaim for figures of enormous elephants, which form part of the awareness campaign about the worldwide ecological crisis,” says Amanda. Read more here (in Afrikaans) about this Wordfest artist.
Thanks to the art-route coordinator, Theo Kleynhans, festival-goers will also, on the basis of the large variety of considerably exceptional art exhibitions in the PJ Olivier Art Centre and the SU Art Gallery, be able to start or expand their own collections – or simply to come and view the official Fifa art poster. This should not be missed! Theo Kleynhans will lead walkabouts to point out the best buys every evening at 18:00. Follow this link (in Afrikaans) for more information.
And opportunity for romping around there will be to overflowing! On Saturday, 6 March, it will be time again for the Mardi Gras on the Braak. Orchestras, choirs, dancing troupes, drum majorettes, jumping castles, climbing walls, stars of SA’s Got Talent and stalls will all form part of the merry-making that has already made a name for itself in the Western Cape.
On 5 and 6 March, the highly successful Baljaar Carnival will also be held, with stalls, merry-go-rounds, the N2 Jazz Orchestra, Emo Adams, Zinkplaat and The Rockets performing on an outdoors stage, a soccer clinic and Oubaas and Hilda of 7de Laan all making up what traditionally makes an arts festival a festival of getting together!
Last – but not least – is yet another new item on the agenda: the WOORDtroFEES or special prize function, which will be presented for the first time in conjunction with the ATKV on 7 March. “The lovely troFEE, a fairy-like dancer representing the muse, is set to become one of the most sought-after awards in the arts environment. All artists will want it,” says Prof Van Zyl.
- Tickets can be bought from Computicket. Phone 083 915 8000 or book at www.computicket.co.za . Bookings can also be made at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre at 021809 7473.
- Wordfest enquiries: telephone 021 808 2019, email email@example.com or visit www.woordfees.co.za .
- Click here to download the programme ( in Afrikaans).