The Fabulous vFringe Team is made up of two NAF old-timers – Manager Zikhona Monaheng and her assistant Sisanda Mankayi – as well as two newbies – Nqobile Mbhele (from the NAF Tech Team) and Kuhle Ngqezana (who’s transferred over from Scifest Africa to help us out). This intrepid foursome will be managing the content, queries and craziness of this year’s brand-new version of the Fringe festival, the vFringe 2020.
Zikhona has been Fringe Manager for almost 10 years. Lockdown has been wild for her with her two cricket-loving boys, Moshe (2) and Kadi (7) keeping her busy. She escapes the madness of home-schooling by bouncing on the trampoline and baking up a storm – but misses going out and about with her family and exploring new places together.
How did the Fringe artists respond to the idea of the Virtual NAF?
It was a bag full of mixed feelings: some artists felt the digital space wouldn’t have the same effect as live performance, others were worried about the loss of their income, and some were not able to reimagine their work into a virtual space.
What excites you most about the opportunity the vFringe is offering these artists?
The fact that their work will be open to a wider and new audience, both locally and internationally, and, importantly, that they will take home 90% of their earnings.
What are you looking forward to seeing and why would you encourage audiences to check it out?
I’m looking forward to seeing what my Fringies have up the sleeves and how they realise their work in a digital space. This is a great time for the audiences to indulge as much as they can with open minds and at the comfort of their own homes.
Nqobile is a 23-year-old KZN girl who has been in the Eastern Cape for the past 10 years. Dreaming of her name up in lights, she attended her first NAF in 2012 as a participant in the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival. Three years later, she got a student job at NAF and discovered the excitement of working behind-the-scenes. She now finds her home in the Festival’s Tech Office where she is continuing to learn and hone her skills.
What excites you most about the prospect of the vFringe platform?
Definitely the opportunities that exist in this area. Although there has been a lot of scepticism and sometimes cynicism around the topic of the arts and digital platforms, so many ideas have sprouted already. These are ideas that I believe will make the arts more accessible and will diversify the ways in which artists can make revenue in the future. In the national mandate of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I feel like discussions around vNAF and all other platforms rising up in this pandemic will foster the
conversation on the mandate and inclusion of the arts in this Fourth Industrial Revolution.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Oh I’m listening to everything! From jazz to amapiano to afrobeats to choral music (yes, I listen to
choral music), just good music.
We hear you love the NAF tuckshop. What’s your favourite tuckshop treat?
Oh yes! I love NAF tuck especially when they have KitKat, Tex, Sprite, Smarties, and Sour Jelly Babies – oh and on Friday’s there is popcorn! Movie night is the best!
Kuhle, a born and bred Makhandian who specialised in digital storytelling and radio as an undergrad at Rhodes University, is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Media Studies. Besides that, he’s been helping out with logistics and planning at Scifest Africa for the past three months.
You are a newcomer to the NAF team having transferred over from Scifest Africa this month – what are you looking forward to the most in your new job?
I have always wanted to be part of the team that makes the National Arts Festival. I’ve been involved as a student journalist and a performer over the years. I expect to discover new things and to experience different kinds of art that may push me outside my comfort zone. I expect a lot of pressure as a production of this size can ask for a lot in a short space of time. Mostly I’m excited about my own growth and development. This is an opportunity for me to apply my skills while learning new ones.
How has lockdown been for you?
I’m staying alone during the lockdown so it’s been quiet. But I’ve kept myself busy with my studies – and I’m trying to learn coding and Mandarin at the same time!
What do you like to do to relax?
I like to make music with friends and family. I’m an a capella singer and a chorister when time allows it.
Sanda is surviving lockdown in a house full of tweens and teenagers so is pretty used to the ever-changing world of social media, Facebook parties and online concerts.
What are you looking forward to seeing from the artists in this virtual space in 2020 – and what will you miss most about the live event?
I am looking forward to seeing creativity in a different form and platform from what we are used to – but I will miss the actual bodies, the crises, the meltdowns, and all the new Fringies who are always so overwhelmed with the Fringe when they arrive in Makhanda.
What has been the most frustrating part of working from home during the lockdown?
The nearness of the fridge… – and the terrible network in my area!
What are you most looking forward to when we’re at Level 1?
Life as we know it, the beach, and a bumper Fringe in Makhanda in 2021.