I have put off writing this post until now because I was a little nervous that certain productions that had put in proposals for the new Cape Town Fringe Festival would be unfairly disadvantaged by whatever association with me. I shouldn’t have worried. They were both turned down anyway. In fact, I only know of 2 productions that were selected and I heard about that before any other announcements were made (no idea how they knew that they had been chosen!), and they were not Cape Town productions.
Ever since I heard about this new, shiny Cape Town Fringe I have had more questions than answers. No, let me express myself a little more clearly, so you get the picture. I have felt rage at its existence, fury at the lack of consultation, disbeliefÂ that the City of Cape Town signed a 3 year contract with the powers that run the Grahamstown festival, and total amazement that other artists and arts media and theatre lovers all thought that this was a good idea.
Here is just some of what pissed (and continues to piss) me off.
1. Why do we need a Cape Town Fringe Festival in the first place? I know my home town as a place where I spend the whole year making theatre and sukkeling to get an audience to come, dealing with venues, producing work, directing work, performing work and supporting others’ work. That is what we do. All year round. Now the GTown powers are coming and telling us what to do, how to do it and when, in Cape Town. Sorry, no.
2. Why a new festival when all others have bombed? We have had Cape Town festivals before that sucked and failed. And winners that failed. Out The Box, a gorgeous festival, died a horrible death when it couldn’t get funding. Infecting the City is already a Cape Town festival.
3. Who has curated this Cape Town Fringe Festival? Ok, so it’s no secret that I have a terrible relationship with the Gtown powers that be. No love lost. But really? The flailing Gtown festival organisers sail into my city and make a festival? Their rules, their ideas, their plans, their choices, their budgets in my city? I get that if I don’t want to do their festival in Gtown I can choose not to, but this city of Cape Town is our stomping ground (me and those unconsulted, unhappy, distrusting and bitter) and we feel betrayed by the City of Cape Town. Why weren’t any of the Cape Town theatre players that I know and respect consulted?
4. Suddenly people who ‘applied’ are getting rejection emails that explain that the work they submitted isn’t representative. Ja. WTF? Explain who decides that. No, don’t. What utter trash.
5. Why would any local artist pay to be part of this? I cannot imagine who would put up the extra costs. Apparently plenty do, and are, if the flood of applications is anything to go by, but I don’t get it. At all.
6. Why is the whole thing so hush hush? Why wouldn’t Zayd Minty (from the City) meet with us to answer our questions? Who did the deal? Who gave the go ahead? Who drew up the budget? Who is paying?
On a personal note, I think I will make a plan to be out of the city then. Stuff your festival and the miserable Eastern Cape sponsored car you drove up in.
PS. I know. I know the backlash is about to whip my sorry arse. Hasn’t killed me yet, and shutting up never made me friends anyway.