Living on the Fringe: Local theatre at its best 

Published: June 7th, 2016

plett-fringe-festival-2016The Plett Fringe Festival is currently in its fourth year and after thoroughly entertaining the thespians of Plett, several of the artists will set their sights on thrilling visitors during the iconic Grahamstown Festival. This home grown, eclectic talent of South Africa is not just on show for mere entertainment.

The Plett Fringe Festival provides a large economic and cultural boost for the community of Plett and creates awareness of the Kids of Kurland charity. In conjunction with the support of monthly donors to the charity and the Plett Music Festival in February, the Plett Fringe Festival adds a very welcome addition of funds to this very worthy charity. Says Michelle Dugmore of the foundation, “The Plett Fringe Festival is such a treat because not only does it bring theatre and entertainment to the Plett area but it also brings smiles and much appreciated relief to needy communities.”   

Where did the concept of Fringe originate?

It would seem that the folk of Scotland are not just renowned for their whiskey distilling skills. It turns out that the idea for the Fringe Festival was incubated in Edinburgh, the very heart of Scottish culture. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, established in 1946, is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every year for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city. It’s impossible to translate the level of excitement and talent exhibited at this festival to the written word.

plett-fringe-festival-2016-2Hilda Cronje, international South African artist and star of the award winning show, ‘Mies Julie’, says that this is a truly invaluable platform. Suggs McDonald of the British band ‘Madness’ agrees and praises the Fringe as an event that gives an outlet to artists who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to be in the presence of such a large delegate of journalists, thus stimulating the exposure of new talent. It’s a joy to behold such an abundance of creativity in one place. Miriam Margoles, famous to most South Africans for her roles alongside Rowan Atkinson in the British comedy series ‘The Black Adder’, has nothing but praise for the Fringe. “It nourishes art in every form. Every young person who wants to make a career in dance, theatre, cabaret, opera, comedy and music should be at Fringe, testing out their wares and learning from what others are doing.”         

The exciting reality of this festival is the fact that actors and performers who would normally not come into contact with the adoring public, have an opportunity to shoot the breeze and interact with their fans in an informal setting. This is very cool actually and facilitates the connection between people and art. American actor George Wendt, better known as ‘Norm Peterson’ in the popular TV series ‘Cheers’ says that the Fringe is important because it’s fun and people need fun in their lives. No arguing that fact. This year the line-up for the Plett Fringe is set to be a crowd pleaser. Oom Schalk, Lucy and Alex Tops, Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Roland Perold will be sharing their magic with locals. The intimate setting of The White House Theatre makes for an unforgettable experience.

Moving on to the Fringe Festival in Grahamstown, artists and festival goers will no doubt enjoy the continuation of creative interaction. This year’s lineup includes hundreds of artists and a range of brand new voices in all genres of performance art. Those who have been to the Grahamstown Festival will tell you that this is by far the most stimulating and exciting arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The sleepy hollow of Grahamstown is transformed into a veritable treasure trove of talent. Artists from all over flock there to entertain and amaze the public. It is an event not to be missed. Headlines such as “…the most thrilling production ever experienced in South Africa” and “The must-see show of the year” are but a drop in the bucket of entertainment splendor to be had this year.        

It’s safe to say that you are in very good company when visiting the various Fringe Festivals globally. Like a good whiskey, the effects of this creative experience will stay with you long after you indulge.


Kids of Kurland

kids-of-kurland-fringe-festivalThe Kids Of Kurland School Project was established in 2001 to help the children of this community and has been raising funds over the years be able to employ up to 20 additional teachers, including special needs teachers, social workers and life skills facilitators.

Life skills education presented to date have included topics such as empowerment, functional behaviour, capacity building and coping skills. Programs introduced include child safety, resources for life, pride project, outdoor life skills and AIDS education. Through the AIDS education being instituted, the concept of children educating their own parents on the issues is being introduced through joint homework books.

The results on overall input have been monitored and there has been great progress and a marked difference in atmosphere made with the children, staff and parents in social as well as educational issues that were affecting the community.

Even though there have been great achievements, continued support is necessary for this project to continue. 

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