Intense Begins (NAF 2011)

musings of a professional dreamer

Photograph by Belia Oh
The craziness of the next month has officially begun. The drive from Durban to Grahamstown, not a drive I was looking forward to at all, was a breeze on Sunday, through the almost deserted towns of the Transkei that usual bustle with raging intensity (I’ll be planning future tours down this way around the blissful cruising of Sundays in the future). I arrived at the house where I’m being hosted by the cast and crew of Machitún, an outdoor production from Argentina (more about that as the festival unfolds), and have settled into my space for the next two weeks, in amongst a whirlwind of activity and sound. Ernesto (the music director / composer for Machitún) is permanently creating this incredible electronic music from his room down the hall and the crew primarily speak in Spanish, a passionate and beautiful language… It’s almost like being in college again, but I understand a lot less.

How much prestik does it take to put up 300 posters? A lot more than one might think. For those who’ve been to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown before, you’ll remember the intense sea of posters that colour the streets and buildings of this otherwise very chilled town. I put up almost half my posters on day one of my “poster putting mission” and only twenty in, already had “prestik thumb” – the technical term for the rawness that results primarily from pushing down the corners of countless posters against a concrete wall / lamp post / any empty space you can possibly find. Last year I paid someone to do it because I wasn’t going to be in town early enough to do it myself, but I wasn’t happy with the job they did, so this year I made a point of being here early, and they’re standing out nicely in an already-intense sea of colour, so I’m stoked.

After a chilly 5 hours of “poster putting”, I joined the Machitún crew for a “township tour” into Joza. First stop, Balisto Productions, a fully functional studio shack. DJ Steel and Efese (aka Fanatik-Us) played us some tracks off their latest project, which they’ll be releasing during the festival, and I was blown away by what these guys are achieving with the gear that they have. From there we headed to Sakhuluntu, the primary school in extension 9, where the cutest bunch of local kids (who will also guest in Machitún) entertained the Argentines with some traditional singing and gumboot dancing before the mama’s treated us to dinner. It all added up to a pretty rad way to spend a day.

The next two weeks in Grahamstown are going to be non-stop and, with a 3 week tour following the festival, I have my work cut out for me. I’m almost numb from the cold and my Durbanness fears harder days and nights to come (although I have a little more perspective after last night in Joza), but it’s ridiculously rad to be back and my Durbanness will deal!

Photograph by Belia Oh.

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There are 2 comments on Intense Begins (NAF 2011)

  • Respect Shannon! You should invest in a staple gun:) Hope you have a great festival. See you in Cape Town soon.

  • Thanks Willie! Unfortunately staple guns and brick walls don’t see eye to eye… would’ve made life a lot easier though!! See you in Cape Town very soon =)

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