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May 20, 2011

With little more than a month to go before the historic alleys of Grahamstown are festooned with posters and passionate arts lovers, there are a few things to take special note of to get ready for the 2011 National Arts Festival.

Firstly, accommodation. Grahamstown is filling up fast, so make sure you have a place to rest your head after a hard day of arts appreciation.

The programme is up online, and hardcopies are available from selected Standard Bank, Exclusive Books and Computicket branches. Once you have taken about a week to work meticulously through the HUGE programme, get onto Computicket and secure your place for the shows that you know you’ll regret missing.

A few headliners to look out for on the Main menu are Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the Jazz programme for the first time, Chris Chameleon back with Boo! on the Music line-up, and the flying dance acrobatics of Ireland’s Fidget Feet in Madam Silk on the Dance programme. The Main Theatre stages are carrying the weight of veterans like Lara Bye (with Night, Mother), the Market Theatre (with Death of a Colonialist), Alan Swerdlow (with The History Boys), Rob Murray (with Benchmarks) and Sylvaine Strike (with The Table). Amongst other things, the Visual Arts line-up brings comic art to the forefront with the CO/MIX Pavilion 2011 , conjoining expressionist comic art with political and underground cartooning and the contemporary visual subcultures of skate, surf, street, hip hop, Indie craft and graffiti. The streets of Grahamstown will also be buzzing with flying acrobats, ethereal dance, aerial battles, the beat of many drums and the soaring harmonies of feminine voices in Machitun, one of the various Public Art displays planned for the Festival this year.

Everything showcasing the five 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners’ work will also be a highlight. Look out for Neil Coppen (Drama), Nandipha Mntambo (Visual Art), Mamela Nyamza (Dance), Ben Schoeman (Music) and Bokani Dyer (Jazz).

And we haven’t even gotten to the Arena, Fringe or Film programme yet, not to mention Wordfest, Spiritfest, Thinkfest or the Eastern Cape Showcase. In total we have over 2 500 performances currently in rehearsal for you. Yes, that’s about six months of viewing time. We’re cramming it in to 11 days so hold on to your hats and get ready for the ride.

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It’s closer than you think … 11 days of Amaz!ng … 30 June to 10 July … see you soon!

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