So. For the last few days I’ve been at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. An annual pilgrimage. I have friends who live in Grahamstown (one of whom is a chef. Yes! Mmmm. Can anyone say homemade gnocchi with pesto? And oven fresh olive bread. Dammit!) Which makes the whole experience that much more delicious. Apart from the cold. The cold was cold. Six layers of clothing and still pointing north cold! COLD!
But there’s something about that Eastern Cape air. The smell of dust and aloes. Of distant rain and the promise of the sea. Of crisp, wide awakeness. Of sky wide sunsets and star exploded nights.
Getting to hang out with my mates’ 5 month old baby was another layer. This innocent, gleeful, chilled out kid and I gazed at the moon on many a night and wondered at the sense of it all. I whispered secrets in his pearl soft ears and tickled his gentle feet. I watched his eyes dance and his cheeks dimple. We understood each other.
Saw some pretty damn good stuff too. A frenetic dance adaptation of McBeth. Sean Taylor and Fiona Ramsey in Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf. A couple of comedy shows involving apes and big balled goats. A righteous ripped off redition of Miriam Makeba singing the click song. And other things, including a strange installation by an old mate of mine, James Webb.
But my favourite festival pick? Hands down it’s Every Day, Every Year, I am walking. I’ve always been a fan of Mark Fleishman and Jenni Resnik. But fuck me if this didn’t get under my skin. I wept uncontrollably during the performance and I can’t get the message out of my mind. A physical theatre piece about the plight of refugees in Africa, it was beautiful and moving and exceptional. Go see this.
It feels good. Like I’ve had a little soul food after a bread and water life.