Simon reported from Grahamstown a year ago, when I wasn’t there. Now he’s at the KKNK and he’ll piggy back here for a while. I love his insights. Here are his thoughts after his first day.
Came up to Oudtshoorn yesterday morning having never been to the KKNK before. Obviously I am comparing it to Grahamstown to which I have been going for 22 years odd.
One immediate likeness – the first show I ever saw at Grahamstown in 1989 was and remains perhaps the worst show I have ever seen. The first show I saw here yesterday was its equal. But more of that later. Funnily this to me is a good omen as since that inauspicious start at Grahamstown, I have seen such a lot of bloody good shows there.
So what are the first impressions? Same atmosphere – lekker. Parking is more regulated with quite a lot of designated parking areas on the fringes of the area in which the Festival actually happens and people walk in. Same swarm of informal parking attendants and outright beggars with snotty noses and pitiful expressions.Â Generally though drivers quite polite [but then it is the first day !]. Of course it is quite warm and lots of people are wandering around in shorts and slip-slops – none of the coats and beanies that mark Grahamstown early mornings/late nights.Â The programme is heavy on music and light on theatre whereas Grahamstown is more the other way around.
IÂ haven’t worked out yet where the heart of the festival is yet – there is a large area with blocked off roads that seems to be the market and somewhere near there is the Festival office and booking area but today I will find it and get a proper festival booklet etc.
Another things that I am pleased to see hasn’t died out at the KKNK [as it seems to be at Grahamstown] is people voting with their feet. The first show was “DIE KORTSTONDIGE RAKLEWE VAN ANASTASIA W” written by Marlene van Niekerk, directed by Marthinus Basson and performed by Nicole Holm and Eben Genis, both of whom I worked with in “NOAH OF CAPE TOWN”, and others.Â The SANW Ouditorium holds about 400 people and was about half full when the show started.Â 5 minutes in the first couple left and by the time it finished 100 minutes later, more than half of the audience had got up and gone. I exaggerate not.Â I stayed to see what the reaction at the end was like – lukewarm to cold by the way – and snuck out quietly avoiding Nicole and Eben in the foyer where they were serving food seemingly as part of the play – weird. The play is [I think – I am certainly not sure because it is so obscure and inaccessible] about the ills of South Africa now – violence, incompetency, corruption and inefficiency with a less than subtle hint that the old times might have been better. The programme [the one I have so far] says you will “rol van die lag” and “snak jou asem van skok” – didn’t hear one laugh or any breathy intakes.
This play has won an award at the Aardklop festival – to me that is simply a good reason not to go to Aardklop. So not a good start.
After that went to the first performance of “LONDON ROAD” [English theatre at the KKNK] – audience of about 80, no one left and standing ovation. Finished off the day sitting outside with my “LONDON ROAD” girls and others braai-ing in the mild Karoo evening. Oh and there was a glass or two of red wine.