I’ve been looking for international show buyers at our festival. I want to know what it is that they are looking for.
So, imagine my surprise when I bounced into three of thems at Mad Hatters this morning.
And the answer to my question is: Work that “gets under the (South African) skin” and reflects our “multiplicity”.
Jan Ryan, Michaela Walldram-Jones of Afrovibes in the UK and mainland Europe, with Sarah Ellis listening in, have seen work which is beautiful, but not right for their European audiences.
However, pieces like The Table, Abnormal Load, 8 Minuets and London Road were “liked”.
“We have seen a good range,” says Jan.
Last night’s Soweto Kinch & Tumi (Molekane) jazz-street music match up was packed with “a totally mixed” audience – young, old, black, white, “and everybody having a good time. It’s what we call a mash-up!”
This process sees a range of “completely different” people finding “one connection” they “feel and understand” which “lets you in”.
Taking works which have these cross-over, universal elements to Europe has the effect of creating a better understanding of contemporary South Africa for those living abroad.
They are looking for “specific artists” and work which have this universality.
Jan says Brett Bailley and his Third World Bunfight productions are rocking Europe.
A week or so back, Brett’s productions were on in Germany and were regarded as “one of the most exciting” shows.
Works by Paul Grootboom are also making it in these corners of the world.
What trends are they noticing at out fest?
Our artists are forging their own “independent” path, whereas in Europe the work can feel “very homogenised” and heavily influenced by the “American psyche”, especially American popular culture.
The world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival, has the Commonwealth Games and a big birthday party celebration coming up in the next three years, and the search is on for work around the world.
Edinburgh can produce up to 3000 shows, and the average, mythical audience attendance for an average, typical fringe show is … 6!
So take heart as this is fast becoming our “bottom level” figure for the dog-eats-dog fringe entrepreneurs!
Hey, it used to be one in the 90s, so there’s been an improvement. We are just one bum short of Edinburgh!
Jan wears different hats. She also produces international shows for the State Theatre and Market Theatre and is a consultant for Edinburgh.
“And I work for Jan!” chimes Michaela.
Sarah is head of creative programs at the The Albany London.