The journ and drama departments at Rhodes used to share the same building, and I became curious about these oddities who shared the same verandah with us while we smoked our cigarettes there outside the Rhodes Theatre. They seemed to have a lot more fun. Been writing about arts, mostly theatre, ever since.
I stumbled into the drama world via a preference in primary school for reading stories and singing (badly) and using my imagination rather than hurling spherical objects around on patches of mowed grass. Cue a couple of school plays on the CV, cue reading for Drama at UCKAR under several gurus who taught me heaps and loads about this whole live arts, theatre, dance, performancey-stuff story. They and my peers also cracked open debates and thinking about if and why the hell it does or should matter… thanks all ya’ll. Cue working in arts management & fundraising for several years and witnessing first-hand all the beautiful and ugly sides to this industry of which we all can’t seem to get enough. Cue 2012: the year of my last performance gig and the year I joined The Critter (then Artsblog). Ever since, have put the above to good use whilst scribbling ideas and opinions on this thing we call The Arts.
The National Arts Festival is one of few remaining truly free spaces for artistic creative freedom and that is why it is a fine starting point for myself. I am not an arts critic. I am more of an arts writer. I am interested in my intuitive response to work and thanks to 24 festivals, 22 in a row, I feel released enough to go with the flow. Did I get the narrative? Did it matter? Did it move me in an unexpected way? Did I learn something? A new fact, feeling, a piece of history or principle which moved others many years before me? I have come to seek out the new, the original, the unthinkable, but mainly to learn, find out about everything. I was shocked, nah, stunned by my first festival. The piece on the horrors of conscription did not call for an end to conscription (our thing back then), and the actor, Nicky Rebelo, was utterly disdainful of my complaint. It’s art. Long live!
Nkgopoleng Moloi: I am a writer and an MA student in contemporary curatorial practices at Wits University. Using archives and exhibition histories, my research explores womxn’s mobility —attempting to understand and draw attention to factors that enhance or inhibit womxn’s freedom of movement. Writing is a tool I employ to understand the world around me and to explore the things I am excited and intrigued by, particularly history, art, language and architecture.
Dave Mann is a writer and arts journalist currently living and working in Johannesburg.