This year the 17th annual Kopanong Student Arts Festival will take place from 18 to 23 September on UP’s Hatfield campus and surrounds. The Kopanong Student Arts Festival is a weeklong showcase of more than 50 events including theatre productions, short films and workshops from a variety of genres.

As Kopanong aims to promote young artists in their journey towards change and transformation in the South African arts, this year boasts a diverse program. Westly Smith, a member of the organising team that also directs, choreographs and performs in the festival, says, “The festival aims to produce productions that speak to a variety of people and there will definitely be something to excite everyone. This year’s programme is proving to be relevant to today’s social affairs. It is very exciting to have works from TUT, Oakfields College and City Varsity included in this year’s programme.”

Smith also remarks that they are excited to once again present works from some industry professionals. Liquid Fusion will present the internationally acclaimed, Standard Bank Ovation Award winning production, Burn. Gavin Mattys’ My Dog Don’t Like and Drama Lecturer Bailey Snyman’s PhD creative project L.I.F.E A History of Distance will also be presented for one performance each.

Perdeby also spoke to veterans of Kopanong, Ronaldo Botha, Max Breytenbach and Micia de Wet about the value of the platform that the festival offers young artists. This will be Botha’s fourth year participating in Kopanong. He is acting in three productions. Breytenbach is part of two productions this year; he is directing one, and co-choreographing and performing in the other. De Wet has been involved with the festival for seven years now and she will be showcasing one production this year, Father, My Father: A Folktale for the Found Girls, which she directed, choreographed and mostly wrote.

Kopanong provides a platform for young artists to celebrate student arts, culture and South African heritage, while engaging with the other artistic voices of tomorrow. Botha notes that it is the festival’s capacity to inspire change that ensured his continued involvement. He believes the most dynamic part of Kopanong lies in its ability to catalyse important discussions.

Breytenbach added that “Art allows us to associate and identify with characters and situations that may allow us to become more informed and develop a more rounded outlook on the world.” He also remarks that he is looking forward to engaging with the artists and audiences in order to help them and himself develop and grow in the contemporary South African theatre landscape.

Kopanong assists with the development of young artists, by helping them to refine their artistic voices. De Wet added that this is due to the allowance of creativity without the pressure that there would be at larger scale festivals. According to her this can lead to phenomenal work because of the absence of fear and pressure, or can alternatively result in absolute flops, although, she says “This is true of any festival.” Furthermore, she states that she thinks Kopanong’s accessibility and loyal audience allows for criticism and feedback from far and wide. She concludes by saying that Kopanong spring boarded her development. “It’s where I’ve won an award, been nominated for awards, and [gathered] valuable [criticism] in order to grow myself as a performing artist.”

Tickets for Kopanong will be sold at R35 each, and will be available online and at the Drama Department’s box office during the festival. The link to purchase tickets online will be made available closer to the time.


Photo: Shaun Sproule.

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