Audiences are in for a three-week theatre spree when the Cape Town Fringe Festival opens on 21 September. The festival, which has spread into 13 venues across Cape Town, is preparing to launch with a diverse programme of theatre, dance, comedy, illusion, music and family fare.

Says Cape Town Fringe manager Zikhona Monaheng, “It’s a programme rich with stories, many of them very personal stories, but collectively they echo the hearts and minds of most South Africans right now.”

Exploring slices of life from the perspectives of prisoners, gangsters, grandmothers, teenagers, and rabbits, artists are evolving new realities, venting frustration, reflecting on loss and performing our collective catharsis with a programme that is also significantly Capetonian in subject matter.

Tackling some complex issues, the theatre component of the Fringe, the biggest section of the programme, sees the Imbawula Theatre Company take on the effects of the absent father in The Champion, and Rhodes University’s Drama Department exploring issues of loss, recollection and closure in the award-winning Bayephi.

The Alchemy of Words

The Alchemy of Word

Dryfsands’ The Alchemy of Words captures the enigmatic poet Arnold Rimbaud’s world through puppetry, film and music; Jean-Pierre Lesch scripts #Other_Coloured_Story for the cast of Dirty Laundry en Vuil Wasgoed; and Mpapa Simo Majola uses physical and lyrical vignettes and disconnected monologues to convey his confusion over life and death in The Funeral.

Drawing on his Khoi heritage, and storytelling, music and theatre, Hakkiesdraad Hartman opts out of fence-sitting in Die Draadsitter; Francis Mennigke appeals to the heartstrings in Greg Coetzee’s absurd comedy, The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy; and Sjaka S Septembir’s poetry fuses with physical theatre and music in Skop, an unusual, light-hearted look at love, sex and death directed by Sandra Temmingh.

Kwathike Kanti Kaloku

Kwathike Kanti Kaloku

Numerous family shows make for an ideal end-of-term or school holiday treat. These include the award-winning The Singing Chameleon about a hero who overcomes adversity, the magical Kwathi Ke Kanti Kaloku, a celebration of isiXhosa children’s literature and indigenous music, and 2017 Best of Zabalaza Festival winner Boy Ntulikazi, a work suited to teens of 13 and older, about the impact our life choices can make.

Dance productions such as Indoni Dance Art Academy’s iKhaya with choreography by Sbonakaliso Ndaba, Musa Hlatswayo’s ‘DODA’, and the Cape Dance Company’s extract from Ellipses give exquisite food for thought, while the pure joy of dance is celebrated by 34/18 Youth Dance Company’s Momentum.

Mashudu in The Red Card

Mashudu in The Red Card

Police Cops in Space, sequel to the 2016 Cape Town Fringe smash hit, Police Cops, is sure to pack in the crowds with its frenetic physicality and absurd comedy. Mashudu, the Venda-born Delft comedian, plans to bring down the house with his commentary on South African politics, taxi drivers and Omashonisa in Red Card and Tats Nkonzo brings his self-deprecating Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning production, Privileged, to the Fringe.

From Naked Girls Reading to hip hop emcee challenges, from The Big, Big Comedy to Soul Connection gospel concerts, from Khoisan poetry to gangster stories and children’s literature – there is a smorgasbord on offer.

All the Cape Town Fringe venues this year are small independent theatre spaces or pop-up theatres, a format that assists Cape Town theatre-makers in promoting and celebrating the small theatres where they are. Shows move between venues but do not necessarily visit all venues.

The Cape Town Fringe 2017 will be presented at:

  • Makukhanye Art Room in Khayelitsha
  • Alma Café in Rosebank
  • Jolly Carp in Retreat
  • Fringe Club at the German Club in Gardens
  • Theatre Arts Admin Collective in Observatory
  • iThemba Labantu in Philippi
  • Zolani Sport and Recreation Centre in Nyanga
  • Alexander Bar in Cape Town City
  • UCT’s Little Theatre, P4 Studio and Bindery Lab at Hiddingh Campus, Orange St, City
  • Black Box Theatre in Delft South
  • 228 on Main – AFDA Tin Observatory
  • See our guide to all the Cape Town Fringe venues, including directions and GPS co-ordinates
  • Pick up a printed programme at selected branches of Exclusive Books or your neighbourhood theatre