The programme of the 24th Klein Karoo Nationals Arts Festival (KKNK), taking place in Oudtshoorn from Thursday, 29 March to Wednesday, 4 April, offers plenty for non-Afrikaans festivalgoers.

“It is our belief that the arts are able to unite people from all walks of life, especially in South Africa. Music and theatre is a language that transcends beyond the spoken word. The KKNK also focuses on programming which includes several languages and non-verbal works accessible to all,” says Hugo Theart, acting CEO of the Kunste Onbeperk, the presenting company of the KKNK.

In the drama Gif/Poison/Ityhefu, Mbulelo Grootboom, Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Mahlodi Kenny Rakotsoane tell the story of a husband and wife who lost their child, then themselves and finally each other. After a long separation, they meet again at their child’s grave. He has moved on and is looking ahead. She is still caught in the past. While the couple relives the final moments with their loved one, they take their first steps to reconciliation. Nico Luwes describes this production as deeply moving, accessible and brilliant. Erwin Maas, a New York based Dutch director, is at the helm, with original script by the award-winning Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans, translated by Willem Anker. This is a Free State Arts Festival production, supported by Kunste Onbeperk and the US Woordfees and made possible by NATi and the Embassy of the Netherlands, Pretoria.

The Ovation Award-winner at the National Arts Festival, State Fracture, a satirical, multi-sketch sequel to Pay Back the Curry, is sure to send spectators into fits of laughter and blow them away with Daniel Mpilo Richard’s award-winning performance. Directed by Rob van Vuuren, it rips into the political landscape of the day and spares no one. Says playwright Mike van Graan: “We had a great time with Pay Back the Curry at the KKNK last year, so we’re looking forward to being there with its sequel. Everyone should attend the KKNK – it is one of the best festivals in the country with quality shows, fabulous food, pleasant weather, lots of activities to enjoy and a great vibe.”

On the Uitkampteater programme festivalgoers can look forward to What Sounds Like Now with Joey Schrauwen, Nick Livramento Silva and Jurien Enschede, who visit the KKNK from the Netherlands for their fully improvised rhyme performance that is doomed to fail. Two performers take arms against the pressure to perform and self-censorship. Together they have set a theatrical trap for themselves, out of which they attempt to break free in front of the audience.

My Brother is a Dancer is an experimental physical theatre piece that explores the relationship between two brothers who experience the world in different ways. The boys create a world where they can both live in harmony and be treated equally regardless of their abilities. My Brother is a Dancer is a story about using one’s imagination as a weapon against fear. The story unfolds through a series of events that give us more insight into their circumstances. The director is an exciting new voice and Rhodes University graduate, Thembela Madliki. Her production Bayephi received a Silver Ovation Award at last year’s National Arts Festival.

Ameera Conrad, who recently received an award for her contribution to theatre from the Western Cape Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, brings the debut Uitkampteater piece Lolly to the festival. Lolly is a living doll. She is all that you will ever desire and all that every television programme convinces you that you deserve. Join her as she shares handy tips and insights through her easy to follow YouTube guidelines.

In a cross between drama and music, Valencia – ’n Kabarett is a short cabaret, focused on the thoughts of a biased policeman with a strong dislike for foreigners and other women. As the Donald Trump of coloured policewoman she will do everything in her power to make “Little Somalia” (Belville) good again. She aspires to remove all the unwanted elements from her environment. With Faith Kinnear and Pieter Odendaal.

There are several highlights for music enthusiasts on the festival programme. Amongst them is Afrika My Verlange / Afrique Mon Désir with Laurinda Hofmeyer (vocals and piano), Schalk Joubert (bass), Kevin Gibson (drums), Malako Wekuna-Soba (vocals), Yamamoto Bonkuta Loyeke (vocals), Deodata Kinzunga-Walo (vocals), Kayembe Ilunga (guitar) and Dylan Roman (accordion). Directed by David Kramer and with musical direction by Schalk Joubert, the musicians discover the treasure chest of African poetry from Madagascar, Mauritania and Senegal, as well as works by Breyten Breytenbach and Antjie Krog. David Kramer’s Platteland is also a production where the music transcends the lyrics and promises to be a truly South African experience.

Anna Davel, Gloria Bosman and John Fresk bring a debut production in a swing tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with A Century in Song. They present the timeless songs that Fitzgerald made her own, including “I Got Rhythm”, “Cheek to Cheek”, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, “Someone to Watch over Me”, “The Lady is a Tramp” and “Summertime”. Fitzgerald is widely acclaimed as one of the best female singers in history and in this production the First Lady of Song will be remembered through her timeless music that still brings joy to millions of fans all over the world.

For classical music enthusiasts the RSG “Dis Opera”-konsert will be a highlight. Wouter de Wet, Laetitia Orlandi (piano), Santisa Viljoen (director) and the NWU Conservatory Choir performs a programme of solo, ensemble and choral works from popular operas including, amongst others Verdi, Mozart, Puccini and Bizet. All the participants are current vocal students at the university. The production is presented by RSG’s Wouter de Wet.

Hannes Coetzee, who plays guitar with a teaspoon in his mouth, transfers his unique style of playing the guitar to a new generation in Lepeltjie vol snare. Joining him on stage are Frazer Barry, Earl Witbooi, Loit Sols, Deniel Barry and Stefne van Dyk. Coetzee captivated the imaginations of both South Africans and Americans with his unique style of playing the guitar. Coetzee is honoured with the Kunste Onbeperk Kruispunt Award.

“The KKNK’s brand new Kuierbuurt offers loads of family entertainment for both young and older festivalgoers and is where everyone can experience top-class music entertainment and socialize with friends and family,” says Theart. Some of South Africa’s biggest music acts are seen on stage in the Kuierbuurt, on the Huisgenoot Stage. These include performances by Mi Casa, Majozi and Matthew Mole in Awê Kaktus (Thursday, 29 March 19:30). It is the first time that these three acts can be seen on stage in the Klein Karoo. The winner of the second season of The Voice SA, Craig Lucas, winner of the third season of The Voice SA, Paxton Filies, The Voice SA finalist Thembeka, and festival favourites The Rockets are also on stage during the festival.

The festival programme also includes various non-verbal productions, for a variety of family entertainment. Babbelagtig with De Klerk Oelofse, Jemma Kahn, Roberto Pombo, Klara van Wyk, Dean Balie, Thami Baba and David Viviers is a spontaneous, contemporary clowning theatre spectacle. It takes adults back to their childhood days, creates a magical world and captivates audiences with elements of circus and clowning. This show is perfect for the whole family. The production is directed by the renowned Jenine Collocott – who is well-know for her more physical and clowning presentations.

The Kanna Award-winning company for best children’s theatre at last year’s KKNK returns to the festival for more exceptional non-verbal children’s theatre productions. Caleb Petersen, Jurgen McEwan and Kurt Jonas perform in In die natuur, In die woud, In die lug and In die see, as part of the Uitkampteater programme for children at ATKV-Speelbos in the Kuierbuurt.
John Jacobs, well loved and award-winning South African mime artist, knows how to entertain children and make them laugh, as showcased in another Uitkampteater piece for children, Stoute Kabouter.

The Street Theatre programme throughout Baron van Reede Street presents exciting daily surprises with both international and South African artists. Some of the performances include fire dancing, 30-second theatre performances, acoustic violin and guitar performances, acrobats, storytelling through movement, dance and various other instrumentalists and artists. Access to these performances are free of charge.

The KKNK’s complete festival programme is available at www.kknk.co.za. Tickets are available from Computicket, Shoprite/Checkers and House & Home. Accommodation can be booked at 044 203 8600.