Welcome to Amazingby Zoe Henry / 06.07.2009
Students cavort in the streets dressed like hippies influenced by Kurt Cobain. White guys with dreadlocks roam in an abundance last seen at a Bob Marley tribute concert. The local kids pale their dark faces and stand tjoep-still waiting for passersby to flick them a coin and propel them into animation. Drunk gaggles pour from packed pubs to puke in the gutters. Rub shoulders with Simphiwe Dana and Freshlyground’s Zolani at the 24-hour Spar. Welcome to the Grahamstown Festival. Or as the huge banner shouts at you as you drive into town, Welcome to Amazing! Plays, dance, music and theatre are packed tightly into schedules like mamas into the back of taxis. There’s practically no time to eat, let alone sleep, as you sprint from venue to venue, hoping and praying that this production (like every other Grahamstown production) doesn’t start on time. So far the system hasn’t let me down. Watching dancers expertly twist and contort in an amazingly unique version of Carmen. ETC Crew holler their old school brand of hip-hop, and you holler back, waving your hands in the air shouting “hey-ho, hey-ho” like this is 1997. FTH:K Productions takes you into the nightmarish world with frightening masks and a soundtrack reminiscent of an aural hallucination in their non-verbal play Quack! And that’s only day one.
Nine more days, and the possibilities are endless. Ncamisa! The Women – a play about lesbians from the townships. Sit back and get hit in the gut. Your bottom lip starts to tremble as the story winds from soccer games and frivolity to gay bashing and ‘corrective’ gang rape. Get yourself burned as spoken-word MC Ewok spits fire at you, a running social commentary of decaying family values. Let acoustic gutarist Nibs van der Spuy soothe your tormented soul with his warm like whiskey voice and god-like guitar skills. Get educated and cultured with Fred Khumalo’s bio-play, Touch my Blood. What a visual and erudite treat. Tired and cold you trudge home thinking you’re entertainment saturated. But when the early dawn sun begins to bask the town in it’s crisp golden light, out comes the programme to decide how today’s entertainment will unfold.