South Africa is witnessing the largest wave of public protests since the end of Apartheid in 1994. In March 2015, a student from the University of Cape Town (UCT) smeared excrement onto a monument of the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes which sparked protests under the banner “Rhodes must fall!” At the centre of the protesters’ demands was a call to decolonialise educational institutions and abolish tuition fees. The protests show that the so-called “born free” generation – those born after the end of Apartheid – has been bitterly disappointed by Nelson Mandela’s promise of a “Rainbow Nation” and that the social and economic disparity among various groups in the population has not been adequately addressed by the ruling ANC party. While unequal academic opportunity has been the primary target of this frustration, the protests have also had a cathartic effect, resulting in cautious optimism with regard to the country’s future.
With its project “Chasing Rainbows”, the Festival Spielart has developed a programme featuring an interdisciplinary South African focus, curated in cooperation with Jay Pather from the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts and the Live Art Festival in Cape Town. Based on the current protest movements, the festival plans to present the vibrant dance, theatre and art scene of the post-Apartheid era and critically examine the state of the once invoked Rainbow Nation. The programme comprises a broad range of artistic genres which investigate social and economic disparities, the debate concerning the redistribution of land, the effects of criminality, racism and corruption on everyday life, gender issues, the compatibility of traditional Zulu and Xhosa customs with modern lifestyles, and the country’s colonial legacy. Other projects will address the conciliatory policies of the 1990s and the homogenised historical narrative established by the appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These intend to offer alternative interpretations of the past and allow marginalised voices to be heard, revealing a deeply divided society.
Based on a model used by other South African public art festivals like “Infecting the City” in Cape Town and “In House” in Johannesburg, some of the productions will be shown during daytime walking tours in downtown Munich. A seminar at the Theaterakademie August Everding will prepare the thematic focus of the festival. Students from various disciplines will be responsible for introducing the productions (e.g. in artist talks) and collaborating with South African artists in developing the downtown walking tours.
Artistic directors: Sophie Becker (ZA), Jay Pather (ZA)
Participating artists: The Brother Moves On (ZA), Eduardo Cachucho (ZA), Hasan Essop (ZA), Husain Essop (ZA) Gabrielle Goliath (ZA), Paul Grootboom (ZA), Dean Hutton (ZA), Silindokuhle Albert lbokwe Khoza (ZA), Gerald Machona (ZW/ZA), Themba Mbuli /Unmute Dance Company (ZA), Sethembife Msezane (ZA), Zanele Muholi (ZA), Neo Muyanga (ZA), Mamela Nyamza (ZA), Sello Pesa (ZA), Koleka Putuma (ZA), iQhiya (ZA), Tracey Rose (ZA) Athi-Patra Ruga (ZA), Buhlebewze Siwan (ZA), Chuma Sopotela (ZA), Ntombe Thongo (ZA), James Webb (ZA), Nelisiwe Xaba (ZA)