Free al-fresco theatre festival


Muzi Shili and Oscar Buthelezi in the award-winning Moving into Dance Mophatong in Road, choreographed by Oscar Buthelezi (Picture courtesy of Mark Wessels).



IF THE youngsters are showing signs of getting bored with the holidays and you’re seeking something to get them out of your hair later this month, consider taking them to Durban’s free Fresha Fest!, a fun outdoor celebration of theatre.

The event, scheduled for January 20, 21 and 22, replaces Durban’s Musho! Festival, which ended last year after running every January for 11 years. It was a celebration of solo and two-hander plays at the Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf.

The inaugural Fresha Fest! is planned for North Beach, points out festival director Emma Durden, who adds in a press release: “What could be more quintessentially Durban than a summer festival of free theatre, right on the beach?” 

The festival will start in the late afternoon on Friday, January 20, with a promenade procession and performance showcase to provide an overview of the weekend ahead, explains publicist Illa Thompson.

The festival programme will run on January 21 and 22 from noon until 5pm, offering a full afternoon of free, diverse, family-friendly short shows. 

Gerard O, a street performer from the Netherlands, who will present fun street-theatre comedy interventions.

“Each day will culminate with a Sundowner Showcase under the especially erected beach Bedouin tent on the Bay of Plenty Lawns at 5pm.  These evening performances are charged on a pay-what-you-can basis,” adds Thompson.

“A varied day-time line-up of carefully chosen participants takes place on the beach promenade and has been selected to ensure the programme is diverse, fabulous and entertaining.”

Among performers are the multi-award-winning Moving into Dance Mophatong in a work titled Road, choreographed by Oscar Buthelezi, who recently returned from Germany with a handful of international awards for the work.

Also on the bill are fun street-theatre comedy interventions by Gerard O, a performer from the Netherlands; and physical theatre pieces by respected Durban choreographers-performers Mdu Mtshali and Shelby Strange.

Feedback, a delightfully comic physical-theatre piece starring locals Mpilo Straw Zondi and TQ Nzimande.

Look out, too, for an installation by Doung Anwar Jahangeer; Feedback: a physical-theatre piece by  TQ Nzimande and Mpilo Zondi; productions from various theatre groups working with Twist Theatre Projects; a piece by Durban Deaf mime artist, Sibo Masondo, and guest productions from Isil Vos of the Netherlands.

Each production will have two 15-minute performances over the weekend.  

With the simultaneous closing of the Catalina Theatre and the KwaZulu-Natal offices of the Performing Arts Network of SA (Pansa), the Musho festival was no longer viable, says Thompson.

Durban Deaf-mime artist Sibo Masondo. (Picture by courtesy of Paulo Menezes).

“Fresha is the phoenix that has arisen from Musho’s ashes – a hip and happening street/beach open-air festival: the perfect event to wrap up the Durban summer holiday season.

The Fresha Festival is co-directed by Durden and Roel Twijnstra and is presented by Twist Theatre Development Projects.

Twist is funded by The National Lotteries Commission. Additional funding for Fresha has also been graciously provided by the Department of Arts and Culture KZN and the KZN Performing Arts Trust.





5pm:  Opening event – procession and performance showcase – FREE

5.30pm: Sundowner theatre showcase Road (Dance – Moving into Dance Mophatong) – in Bedouin marquee – PAY WHAT YOU CAN DONATION



8:00 – 9.00   Contemporary Dance Class – FREE

12.30   See Power (Performance art – Doung Anwar Jahangeer) – FREE

1.00:    Gerard O (Street comedy – Netherlands) – FREE

1.30:    Dustbins (Theatre – Thandimpilo) – FREE

2:00:    Alive Kids (Performance art – The Gift) – FREE

2.30:    The Furry Glove by Sibo (Street mime) Ideal for children – FREE

3:00:    Dung Beetle (Theatre – Mzansi Theatre Projects) – FREE

3:30:    Overload (Theatre – Nansimpumelelo Arts Initiative) – FREE

4:00:    Dislocation (Physical Theatre – Rickshaw Collective)  – FREE

4:30:    Road (Dance – Moving into Dance Mophatong) – FREE

5:00:    Sundowner theatre showcase – Hit and Run (Theatre – De Veenfabriek – Netherlands)  – in Bedouin marquee – PAY WHAT YOU CAN DONATION



12.30   See Power (Performance art – Doung Anwar Jahangeer) – FREE

1.00:    Le Mot  by Sibo (Street mime) – Classic French-style mime – FREE

1.30:    Gerard O (Street comedy – Netherlands) – FREE

2:00:   Dislocation (Physical theatre – Rickshaw Collective)  – FREE

2.30:    Dung Beetle (Theatre – Mzansi Theatre Projects) – FREE

3:00:    Overload (Theatre – Nansimpumelelo Arts Initiative) – FREE

3:30:    Hit and Run (Theatre – De Veenfabriek – Netherlands) – FREE

4:00:    Dustbins (Theatre – Thandimpilo) – FREE

4:30:    Alive Kids (Performance art – The Gift) – FREE

5:00:    Sundowner theatre showcase – Feedback (Physical theatre – TQ Zondi & Mpilo Nzimande) – in Bedouin marquee – PAY WHAT YOU CAN DONATION

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