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Cape Town Fringe lands in the Mother City

After months of rehearsing, building stages, scenes, podiums and props, the runway has been prepared and the 2017 Cape Town Fringe Festival has landed.

From 21 September to 8 October, thirteen Cape Town venues will host over one hundred productions, leaving audiences across the Mother City spoiled for choice (see which shows are first on the line-up below).

Reflecting on the evolving format of the Cape Town Fringe, executive producer, Ashraf Johaardien has this to say, ‘Cape Town is a complex space and any festival which aspires to be a true reflection of the Mother City needs to reflect that complexity.  This year’s decentralised model of a performance circuit taking theatre to where people live and work responds to both the sprawling geography and complicated history of the City.’

The remodeled Fringe has partnered with a number of Cape Town venues, drawing on their local expertise and knowledge of their communities to build a programme relevant to their audiences.

A born and bred Capetonian, Johaardien has deep roots in the city. He speaks of the contradictions we face ‘not only in Cape Town, but also as a nation navigating the slings and arrows of outrageous life in this country …’, as being part of what defines us.

‘For me, the idea and model of a Fringe Festival needs to be about the artists. It must be about the work. It has to be about placing the festival-goer at the heart of the festival experience. These bigger-picture-things that are about building something for the future.’

The programme is rich with theatre, including award winning productions from the National Arts Festival, Zabalaza Festival and others. The dance programme features a number of male choreographers this year, while the music programme includes a number of one night only shows not to be missed. A healthy dose of comedy and the crowd-pleasing lure of illusion are also on the bill, and children and teens will be engaged by theatre especially relevant to their ages and interests.

‘It’s close on three weeks of extraordinary creativity, Cape Town’s very own celebration of the arts, and we hope that its people will own it and hold it close,’ says Johaardien, ‘because theatre heals, helps and makes us happy – and that counts for a whole lot right now.’

Here are the #CTFringe shows opening on Heritage Day weekend – 21 to 25 September. Some will enjoy a short run only and others continue on to different venues on the Fringe circuit. The quickest way to find out more is by downloading the Cape Town Fringe app for Android or IOS. Also search by date, venue or show on

Premiere Thursday 21 September

Kwathi ke Kanti Kaloku – Celebration of isiXhosa literature and indigenous music for children Grade 0-12 featuring Sindiwe  Magona as Mama Magona

Luks – Lukhanyo runs into a spot of trouble when he goes against his mother’s wishes. Grades 4 – 7

The Singing Chameleon – The tale of how Chameleon rises above adversity to become a hero. Grade 0 to 7

Hocus Pocus – Brendon Peel’s mystery-filled show

Rock to the Core – Mamela Nyamza’s brand-new work challenges the status quo for women in the arts

Jenny and the Jameses – Original Celtic folk band plays their emotive, original compositions

Diana Ferus Celebrates Our Heritage! – For one show only on 22 September at The Jolly Carp, Diana Ferrus will tell her spellbinding Khoi-inspired stories through poetry and song

The Funeral – A meditation on the fraught connection with life and death

The Champion – A young man grapples with the legacy of being the child of a grass widow and the consequences of absentee fathers, it’s a Zabalaza Festival winner 2014

Powers of Lightness – Tossie van Tonder’s profound exploration of being South African

Bam Bam Brown – R60 gets you an experience with this internationally touring artist, enter the soundscape and soak up the music

Premiere Friday 22 September

I am not yet born  – Stories of life inside – and outside – of jail. Grades 8 to 12

Woman on the Cross – A group of young women face life’s daily hardships and the cross that women have to bear

The System – Award-winning physical theatre show returns to SA

Ndendile – Bridging urban and rural traditions together in a tale of love between two men and the prejudices they must face on their return to their traditional village, winner of the Best Production at the Youth on Top Festival 2014

The Edge of the Light – Delicate familial story of loss, perception and consequences from Wynne Bredenkamp

Bayephi – Winner of a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award at the 2017 National Arts Festival this is the tale of a young girl committed to finding peace for her brother’s spirit

Worst of Both Worlds – Two male actors explore female human trafficking and the drug trade

Schoolboy – Nkosinathi Maki’s funny journey through childhood and surviving schooldays

Premiere Saturday 23 September

The Water Warrior  – What will happen when the water runs out? A cautionary tale all too familiar told through visual theatre and dance. All ages

Confessions – Told through the story of a young gang member, this play explores the idea that humans can be compelled to commit unforgivable atrocities to each other

Stones – Runner up of the 2017 Gauteng Ishashalazi Competition, Stones follows the twisted story of two characters, Zuko and Sdima – two men on different paths converge.

Jou Ma se BBQ – Texan stand-up Joe Emilio takes on life in SA

Vuka –  A visit to life after death through poetry, music, theatre and contemporary dance

ISMISM – A study of the nature of existence, with Katharien de Villiers and Khayalethu Mofu

Unknown Challenges – Aspirational piece encouraging youth to follow their dreams

Zamanani Brothers – Tap your feet to their beautiful Isicathamiya (traditional a capella)music

In Whorefish Bloomers: The Waitresses’ Lament – Witty adaption of the feminist cabaret by Sue Pam-Grant with sharp delivery under director Kei-Ella Loewe

Crazy Country Comedy – With Greyton’s own Justin-ray Stoffels

Access Me – The dancers of the Unmute Dance Company share their own stories about their  encounters with lack of, or access to, opportunity, hope, joy and overcoming

Abangabonwa (The Unseen) – A Standard Bank Ovation Award winner at NAF16, this work explores life in the township

DISCUSSION : Black Art & Communities at Heart (BACAH) – A Decolonial Conversation in a Space Where it Matters The Makukhanye Art Room will be hosting a discussion at 2pm on 23 September.

Premiere Sunday 24 September (Heritage Day)

ilizwi lomzali – Young Andile takes a short cut to success by joining a gang but it ends in a jail term – this is the story of a conversation that takes place when his Father visits him in prison (one show only on 24 Sep at the Makukhanye Art Room)

Bars & Beats Emcee Challenge – Rising hip hop artists will have their lyrical and performance skills tested in this exciting, crowd-inspiring challenge (one show only at Makukhanye Art Room)

The Big, Big Comedy Show – One night (24 Sep) of comedy genius with Rob van Vuuren, Tats Nkonzo, Kurt Schoonraad, Siv Ngesi, Lindy Johnson and more

Ellipses (extract) – Exploring the use and significance of this much-used form of punctuation, this is an extracted piece from the full production that toured to National Arts Festival earlier in 2017 (one show only at Zolani Centre)

Momentum – Community dance – rebooted! 11 young dancers and 5 new choreographers work under the experienced artistic direction of Wendl Abrahams

Reggae Heritage Experience – Ras M shares his greatest spoken word performances (one performance only Makukhanye Art Room)

Premiere Monday 25 September (Public Holiday)

Kasi Stories: A Story not Often Told – Thoughtful exploration of the failure of the father figure in South Africa by Drama for Life

Ubuntu – Makukhanye Art Room’s After School Programme performers take to the stage

Phefumla / To Breathe – Exploring the Cape’s gang culture through dance

iComedy Kona Ekasi – Top quality stand-up presented by Kolping Mbumba

Steke – Hilarious retelling of true stories about gender and sexuality

The Book Detectives – From the duo who brought us The Plothole, Cairns & Cockrell unravel a murder in Fairy tale land

Refocused – Magic meets laughter in Greg Gelb’s new show

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – A group of young strangers’ lives are turned upside down by the ‘date rape’ drug GHB, directed by Nicola Hanekom, it’s a chilling warning to young people everywhere

The Woman With a Baby on her Back  – An award winning stage adaption of an Athol Fugard short story, To Whom it May Concern

The Sisters Ugly – The other side of the Cinderella story in a series of works that unpack myths and fairytales

Black Pride – A healing of hearts and souls through poetry and music from writer and director, Sisipho Matwele

Most of the venues sell refreshments.

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