KKNK creates and innovates in 2020

“Although the KKNK did not take place in its traditional format this year, the festival lives on in innovative ways and on various other platforms.”

Although the KKNK did not take place in its traditional format this year, the festival lives on in innovative ways and on various other platforms.”

These are the words of Hugo Theart, Artistic Director of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK). Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the KKNK could not be presented in Oudtshoorn for the first time in 26 years.

“During difficult and uncertain times, the arts offer an escape, it acts as a voice for communities and brings people together to make a difference in their environment. It is for this reason that the KKNK has been endeavouring to entertain audiences and support role players since March this year”, he adds.

Theart continues that with the current restrictions, they had to be creative in their approach and think of new ways to offer quality art with a difference.

“The KKNK does not only create art for audiences once a year. It is our vision to create opportunities in the arts throughout the year, and we have succeeded in doing that thus far in 2020, entertaining festivalgoers on various platforms in the comfort of their own homes.”

A variety of initiatives have been created or adapted to ensure that a diverse offering is still available across South Africa, and internationally for the first time this year.

Netwerk24 and the KKNK’s first short film project, Kortom, was launched in early August and showcases nine short films exclusively to Netwerk24 subscribers over a period of nine weeks. The programme includes four comedies (Voetjie Voetjie written by Nico Scheepers; Kortpad written by Gaerin Hauptfleisch; Nappy Blues written by Carla Smith and Stuur groete vir Fanie written by Marelize Viljoen), three dramas (Markus en die son by Philip Rademeyer;’n Dag vir ’n oomblik by Hilléthe Möller and Die dansengel by Vinette Ebrahim), one thriller (Ter nagedagtenis, by Soné Rossouw) and a dance production, conceptualised by the Figure of 8 Dance Collective, Vasgevang. Expect to see Cintaine Schutte, Waldemar Schultz, Roeline Daneel, Theo Jantjies, Albert Pretorius, Richard September, Brendon Daniels, Wilhelm van der Walt, Gerben Kamper, Kevin Narain, Fiaz Dalman and many more. Four films are already available to Netwerk24 subscribers with the other short films to be released weekly in the coming weeks.

“We are creating an opportunity for playwrights to present new South African scripts and script ideas at Teksmark for the fifth consecutive year. This project was honoured with a special Fleur du Cap Award for innovation in theatre in 2018, and we look forward to creating an opportunity for all writers to present their ideas and scripts for possible further development”, Theart says.

A record number of entries were received for Teksmark this year and the evaluation process is currently underway. Participating scripts will be announced at the end of September. Teksmark takes place from 27 to 29 October 2020 at the Baxter Theatre Complex in Cape Town. This project is made possible with the support of NATi and the Baxter Theatre Centre. 

Mothership Sessions is a music series recorded exclusively for the KKNK at Mothership Studios in Cape Town and streamed worldwide. Despite current restrictions on live concerts, these sessions offer all music fans the opportunity to enjoy some of their favourite South African musicians in the comfort and safety of their own homes – as if from the front row.

“It was important to present a high-quality online product and the result is a high definition viewing experience with outstanding sound. The musicians were also able to generate much-needed income with these concerts”, Theart explains. This online series includes performances by, among others, Elandré, Emo Adams, Karen Zoid, Watershed, Anna Davel, Roan Ash and Elvis Blue.

“Although the 12th Klein Karoo Klassique, Oudtshoorn’s winter festival of classical music, could not take place as planned this year, we are very excited to present two online music concert series over the next few weeks,” he continues.

For the first concert series, Klassique joins forces with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) for three exclusive recitals and this series also includes a performance by the Charl du Plessis Trio, recorded in Switzerland. The CPO is one of Klassique’s oldest partners and is an integral part of this year’s online festival, which runs from August to September. Their programme consists of three classical music performances, including a world premiere adaptation of Beethoven’s well-known Triple Concerto, recorded by three musicians on three different continents, and edited in Cape Town.

The ever-popular Charl du Plessis Trio completes the first concert series with the South African premiere of their performance recorded at the Festival Musiekdorf Ernen in Switzerland in 2017. The performance includes works by Bach, Du Plessis, and others.

The second concert series consists of four performances in conjunction with the Cape Town Baroque Festival, supported by the Rupert Music Foundation. This specially recorded spring concert series is available online from the end of October. More information and tickets will be available from mid-September.

Another first for the KKNK is this year’s Virtual Gallery. According to Theart, the festival has built a reputation for exceptional art exhibitions over the past two decades and this year they were forced to take a virtual leap. “This initiative provides an important platform for visual artists to sell their work and generate income from work created for this year’s KKNK”, he says.

Dineke van der Walt, the KKNK’s new visual art curator, compiled this year’s programme with the theme Down to earth. “Festivalgoers, art enthusiasts and collectors could walk through the digital corridors of our visual arts programme for the first time this year to enjoy the splendour of 11 exhibitions in the comfort of their homes, with more than 200 works by 45 artists”, she says. The response to the gallery was overwhelming and more than 34,000 visitors walked through the virtual gallery.

ReWOLusie, honoured with the Blou Fiësta in 2019, had a new focus in 2020: where this town initiative beautified Oudtshoorn’s streets for the KKNK in previous years, Oudtshoorn residents worked together to knit and donate blankets for the needy.

The KKNK also supports the Tribuo fund during this time. This fund provides much-needed support to role players in the arts who are affected by the current restriction regulations.

“We do not quite want to let the cat out of the bag yet, but theatre and film enthusiasts can look forward to online theatre productions that will be streamed soon, as well as a new South African film that will be presented exclusively on the KKNK’s virtual platforms. We are also working on an e-commerce platform that will sell exclusive products from the Klein Karoo. And we are planning to continue the festivities in Oudtshoorn again next year. The exact format will be determined by the regulations that are in place then, but we look forward to welcoming festival-goers back to the Klein Karoo in 2021”, Theart concludes.