Makhanda: The Cherry on the Top of the Cake

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Over the past few weeks I’ve given you a few teasers of what happened on my trip to Makhanda to perform in a show at the National Arts Festival 2019. Of course, there’s far more I could tell you about, but here’s a general overview… and a final surprise.

First, a huge shout out to everyone involved in the show. I had great fun getting to know the other performers, their sighted assistants and the amazing crew who worked with us. The entire trip was filled with special moments, laughter and fun. Whether it was sitting in the Pothole and Donkey pub cheering on others from the group who took to the stage to play a few songs, relaxing over supper and a glass of wine at one of the local restaurants with some of the group, or comparing experiences as we sat backstage waiting for the show to start.

One memory that will remain with me was sitting backstage on the second day. One of the performers, PJ Durr was idly running through one of the songs he was going to be performing, Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game. Our show director, Niqui began adding harmonies … and it wasn’t long before Gavin, Laurice and I added our own harmonies.

I know I haven’t really blogged about anything but the show. That’s because the show was the focus of our time in Makhanda. However, we did get some downtime – visited some great local restaurants, and I even got to see one other show. Fiji joined Craig on two runs – the Makhanda park run and a run through Makhanda and the surrounding area. And Craig and Afsana got to see a few shows and sample a few exhibitions and markets.

I will admit I was startled to see three donkeys pilfering from refuse bins as they strolled down the main road. And my surprise was nothing compared to Fiji’s. But I guess that’s just what happens in Makhanda!

A week after we got home we heard that our show had been awarded a Standard Bank Ovation Spirit of the Fringe award. Which rounded off the whole experience perfectly!

Here’s how the Standard Bank Ovation Awards are described on the National Arts Festival website:

“The Standard Bank Ovation Awards celebrate artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversations during the National Arts Festival held in Makhanda.”

You can see all this year’s award winners here: https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/news/naf2019-ovation-awards-ceremony/

I’d definitely return to the National Arts Festival – I’d love to see more shows, spend time browsing the many attractions and immerse myself in the atmosphere of this amazing annual event.

The photo shows all the Blind Date performers and their sighted assistants… and Fiji… onstage right at the end of the show, just before taking our final bows.

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