We’ll be revealing the jewels of the Main programme in the build-up to the National Arts Festival, which opens on 28 June. Here are just three spectacular performances that you can look forward to this year:

Steven Cohen © Courtesy STEVENSON Cape Town and Johannesburg

Steven Cohen © Courtesy STEVENSON Cape Town and Johannesburg

Steven Cohen’s put your heart under your feet
… and walk! / to Elu

‘An intense meditation on loss, grief and absence, following the death of Cohen’s partner and artistic collaborator, the choreographer Elu.’

This work takes the form of a performance, a two-screen projection and an installation of sculptural objects. A myriad pointe shoes – among them Elu’s, invoking his absence – are collaged with found objects. The objects are embedded with histories, ideologies, beliefs – a flagpole finial, Hitler paper puppets, vintage photographs of atrocities, icons and crucifixes, purses, sex toys, medical instruments, porcelain ornaments, feathers and hair; many of them, like the arms of chandeliers, taxidermied animal parts and model trees, recurrent images in Cohen’s artistic lexicon.

Mary Watson’s JUNGFRAU is a meditation on families and the secrets they hide

Mary Watson’s JUNGFRAU

Presented in partnership with Festival Theaterformen (Germany)

Directed and designed by Jade Bowers, 2017 Naledi Award Winner for Best Director and 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre | Adapted by Ameera Patel 

Based on the Caine prize-winning short story from Mary Watson’s collection Moss, this is a performance work about families and the secrets they hide. Set in Redhill, Cape Town, before the forced removals, we take a look behind ‘closed doors’ and uncover one family’s secrets. The characters strive to live by their own unique versions of morality but matters are complicated by their reliance and desperate need for each other. Evelyn, a young girl desperate for her mother’s attention and time, idolises her aunt and desperate tries to please her father, Stephen. When they try to comfort her, lines get crossed and emotions spill over.

Julian Meding takes on the role of a contemporary Hamlet in Boris Nikitin’s HAMLET

Boris Nikitin’s HAMLET

Presented in partnership with Pro Helvetia, Johannesburg

“…poetic revolt: raw, confronting, iridescent, antisocial …”

In a mixture of experimental documentary performance and queer music-theatre, performer and electropunk-musician Julian Meding takes on the role of a contemporary Hamlet rebelling against reality. Supported by a baroque ensemble pulled together by the award-winning Neo Muyanga, Meding embarks on a tour de force, in which he reveals himself, his body and his biography to the eyes of the audience. Is it even Meding? Or is it Hamlet? Is everything just a game? To be or not to be? Or both at the same time? Hamlet is all about poetic revolt.