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© Cape Town Fringe
© Cape Town Fringe
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A Guide To The Cape Town Fringe Festival

Picture of Lee-Shay Collison
Updated: 30 August 2016
One of the most anticipated cultural events on the city’s calendar, the Cape Town Fringe returns this year for a third exciting installment. The festival is a great introduction to South Africa’s emerging and established theater-makers and performers, offering a variety of entertainment from visual theater, dance and comedy to jazz and cabaret. The festival is set to take place at several venues around Cape Town and runs from September 22nd through October 8th.
© Cape Town Fringe
The Cape Town City Hall | © Cape Town Fringe

The Cape Town Fringe focuses on innovative works and interesting productions that shake up preconceived notions of theater and bring creative and engaging performances to new audiences. This year, the program has been re-imagined to accommodate more night time performances in keeping with the city’s rhythms, but still extends into the day on weekends and school holidays.

Festival-goers will also be treated to the Cape Town Buskers’ Festival, which sees free, outdoor sessions at the V&A Waterfront from October 5th to 8th, by an array of international and local public theater talents.

‘The [Cape Town Fringe] committee has been encouraged to see that artists are hungry to share their stories, and we feel that this program presents audiences with an exciting mix of edgy Fringe in its truest sense and some must-see productions that have been well received nationally and internationally,’ says creative director, Rob Murray.

© Lufefe Figlan
Courtesy of Cape Town Fringe | © Lufefe Figlan

One such production is the critically acclaimed Police Cops from the UK’s Pretend Men – a parody on macho officers from 1980s police cop dramas. Another excellent international production is The Gruffalo, a West End smash hit based on the world-renowned picture book of the same name, written by Julia Donaldson. Young audiences will be delighted by the play, which combines song, laughter and storytelling theater with a wonderfully catchy score. The South African production will feature all the characters, songs and storyline from the original, but with a uniquely local charm, energy and charisma.

Local Fringe highlights include Rob van Vuuren’s darkly brilliant Dangled, clown-satirist Klara van Wyk in You Suck and Other Inescapable Truths, and Lexi Meier’s Fabric of the Universe, an immersive choreographic installation involving 250 kilograms (550 lb) of crocheted yarn. Magic and illusion enthusiasts can look forward to spellbinding performances by the likes of Stuart Lightbody, Greg Gelb and others.

© Sydelle Willow Smith
Courtesy of Cape Town Fringe | © Sydelle Willow Smith / Courtesy of Cape Town Fringe

On the music program, two must-see collaborations between powerful female vocalists are Maya Spector and Asanda Mqiki in Vocal Explosion. Emma van Heyn adds to this chorus of female voices, while much-loved bands the Nomadic Orchestra and Hatchetman will take to the stage.

The Origins of the Fringe Festival

The concept of ‘Fringe’ started just after World War II in Edinburgh, when a group of independent artists who felt excluded from the Edinburgh Festival decided to start their own festival, which grew to become the biggest and best-known in the world.

A Fringe Festival is characterized by staging small productions, mostly by independent practitioners, and typically uses small and unconventional spaces as venues. The artists strive to put on between six and eight performances a day per venue, making it cheaper for everyone who participates. Modeled on selected Fringe Festivals in New York, Prague and Amsterdam, the Cape Town Fringe is managed by the National Arts Festival and sponsored by the City of Cape Town and Standard Bank.

© Mapodile Mkhabela
Courtesy of Cape Town Fringe | © Mapodile Mkhabela

The main hub of the Fringe Festival is the Cape Town City Hall. Other venues include Alexander Bar, Khayelitsha’s Theatre in the Backyard, Guga S’Thebe as well as Observatory’s new AFDA Theatre. Browse shows and book tickets here.