We asked Rucera Seethal, the Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival, some questions about how she’s finding her new job in these challenging, ever-shifting times…
You are currently in Johannesburg with your family for the lockdown period but you moved to Makhanda in January. How have you found small-town life? Any surprises about our little town?
After touching down running, I really did just about start to settle when I needed to leave for Johannesburg and this is where I am in lockdown. Part of making home is cultivating small habits. In Makhanda, I’ve been working on avoiding the traffic lights outside the Cathedral, which seem to take a particularly long time to change to green for a hardened Johannesburg driver; catching coffee at Barista Sisa opposite Drostdy Arch, which also does a fantastic homemade chicken pie; and driving to the coast – the pineapple beer at the big pineapple in Bathurst was a very refreshing discovery. I look forward to expanding my Makhandian experience base when I am able to get back.
What are you finding the biggest challenges of working at home and telecommuting between Joburg and Makhanda?
I really like the possibility of having less division between my work, family and home life, but finding balance of time and attention for it all takes time, patience and flexibility.
The demands of the 2020 Virtual NAF must be completely different to curating a traditional festival – what have you found to be the biggest challenges and the most interesting aspects of this reconceptualisation of the Festival?
Since we announced, we immediately went into brainstorming and researching possible ways to host or present the Festival, while at the same time working out what kinds of content we could be working with, and how to enable artists to respond to this change, and also reconfiguring internal working groups, and figuring out ways of distance working. How we are all still standing is a small miracle. I’m very pleased to see that a big organisation like the NAF can be flexible and responsive, this is completely necessary in an invariably volatile future.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee and Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany.
What’s your favourite stress snack?
5 roses tea hot milk no sugar, please. But right now, also marshmallow Easter eggs.
What song is on repeat for you at the moment?
Driving up from Makhanda I had Kyle Shepherd, Mandla Mlangeni and Kanye West as company. In my current lockdown set up, my cousin dominates the sound in the house, so far that’s working for me.
What are you most looking forward to doing, once the lockdown is over?
Drinking wine and hugging.