969 Festival celebrates 16 years of theatre excellence

WITS Theatre is a multi-functional performing arts venue located on the very outskirts of the WITS Main campus in Braamfontein. Featuring three technically proficient theatre venues, WITS Theatre is a training centre for students, as well as being a fully functioning professional arts space. WITS Theatre is best known for their annual July festival which brings only the best productions from the National Arts Festival in Makhanda to Joburg for one whole week. The WITS Theatre 969 Festival got its name from the fact that Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), is approximately 969km from Johannesburg. Many Joburgers are unable to make the yearly pilgrimage to the sleepy Eastern Cape town, which is where WITS Theatre steps in.

The 969 Festival is structured similarly to the NAF format. Multiple shows are staged each day, allowing audiences to experience the festival vibe. You can also pop up to the theatre's snack bar for refreshments between shows. Chat to fellow theatre enthusiasts in the lobby, or take a moment to reflect upon what you have seen, heard and learnt about the arts. The 969 Festival has been delighting Joburg audiences for 16 years. Join them this July for a line-up of 14 of the best comedy, drama and physical theatre productions directly from the NAF. As a bonus, there will be a couple of exciting student productions to see. So, don't miss out on the 2019 edition of WITS Theatre's 969 Festival.

WITS Main Theatre

What's On?

Comedy 

In need of a good belly laugh? The WITS Theatre 969 Festival presents a line-up of female led comedy shows this season.

Thuderbirds Comedy

The Thunderbirds is an all-conquering female trio of comedians. Touring the country with their off the wall, unhinged, unapologetic brand of girl power comedy. This one is not for the faint of heart, or young of age - no under 18's allowed. Hold onto your seats, this is one helluva ride!

Written, directed and performed by Gilli Apter, Nina Hastie and Claudine Ullman.

When Is It?

Friday, 19 July 2019 at 21:00.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Downstairs theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

Artificially Infeminated

Artificially Infeminated is directed by funnyman Rob van Vuuren. Starring Claudine Ullman in her debut solo stand up comedy show. Exploring the intricacies of being a pale white, chubby, cis gender female, who also happens to be the middle child in a Jewish family (#millenialslovelabels). Claudine hilariously examines her childhood infatuation with becoming famous, as well as her current infatuation with her double chin, thigh gaps, complaining and how watching The Secret repeatedly isn't the secret to getting rich. She plays multiple characters, discussing deep questions that explore the human condition. The battle between men and women, the battle between gym and tennis biscuits and so on. Artificially Infeminated is a super fresh approach to stand-up comedy, so don't miss it!

When Is It?

Saturday, 20 July 2019 at 20:00.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Downstairs theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

WITS Theatre 969 Festival

Artificially Infeminated

Drama

Love a little drama? This year's 969 Festival features a great line-up of South African dramas inspired by our country's past, present and future. Meshing poetry, prose and visual theatre, these dramas will take you on a journey of self reflection.

Fruit 

Paul Noko's Fruit is a fragile story about a little girl, Matlakala who grows up in a township ravaged by crime and poverty. A performance filled with innocence and purity, Matlakala (played by Matshidiso Mokoteli) uses the indigenous game called “masikitla” to tell her story. At the age of 14, she receives her first doll Lucy, who becomes her make belief confidante. Trapped in her childhood memories, she claims back her innocence through storytelling.

When Is It?

Thursday, 18 July 2019 at 21:00, Saturday, 20 July 2019 at 18:00 and Sunday, 28 July 2019 at 16:30.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Downstairs theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

Unfathomable

Unfathomable is an image based work that wades, drifts, floats through the waters of unprocessed grief. The play seeks out the ghostly presences of those gone and those still alive. To understand their liveliness in death, and their ghostliness in life. Tracing the histories of her father and grandmother in a poetic play between materials, body and words, the captivating Alex Halligey takes the audience on a swim through lives that couldn't be contained and those that stayed small for fear of the size of their spirit.

When Is It?

Thursday, 25 July 2019 at 18:30 and Friday, 26 July 2019 at 18:00.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Main Theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

Unfathomable (photo by Mark Wessels)

Dance/ Physical Theatre

Empty (W)raps

Empty (W)raps is a series of deconstructed monologues presented through elements of song, poetry and physical theatre. Four women are a facet of each other. Empty (W)raps examines their thoughts and experiences, which are a result of loss, uncertainty, love, hate and broken relationships. They occupy a space filled only with empty boxes, a visual metaphor for the unstable spaces of their minds.

When Is It?

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 at 18:00, Thursday, 25 July 2019 at 20:30 and Friday, 26 July 2019 at 20:00.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Downstairs Theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

Gas Lands

Bailey Snyman's Gas Lines is a poetic meditation on the displacement of women due to war, trafficking and migration in the 21st century. Set in a dystopian future, this dance work explores the challenges of crossing borders into the unknown. Gas Lands is ultimately a statement on resilience in the face of adversity. It is a sad, yet hopeful story -a requiem for all women and men who have carved a path from the past into the present and beyond the future.

When Is It?

Sunday, 28 July 2019 at 15:00.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Main Theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

Gas Lands

Kids

WITS Theatre haven't forgotten about the kids either. Bring them along for a special day out in the city.

The Young Scientist

The Young Scientist debates how we form images of scientists for children. The play asks, "Can we view children as scientists and complete humans? And, do adults give a fair chance to children to perform to their fullest potential?" Suitable for all ages.

When Is It?

Thursday, 25 July 2019 at 17:00, Friday, 26 July 2019 at 16:00 and Saturday, 27 July 2019 at 15:00.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, Downstairs Theatre.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost R30 - R85 per person. Get yours here!

WITS Theatre 969 Festival

For more information

View the full WITS Theatre 969 Festival programme on their website or on Webtickets.  Follow them on social media for event updates:

Facebook - facebook.com/Wits-Theatre-103193993052344

Twitter - twitter.com/witstheatre

Instagram - instagram.com/witstheatre

Contact them on 011 717 1381 or via email at [email protected]

What Is It?

The WITS Theatre have been bringing you only the cream of the crop from the National Arts Festival for 16 years! Celebrate with them this July by coming to the 969 Festival 2019 edition. This year's line-up boasts a little bit of everything - from comedy, to drama, student productions and physical theatre. There is something for everyone, and the best part of all is that with shows scheduled one after the other, you can experience the festival vibe right here in the heart of Joburg. Enjoy a drink or two between shows, while catching up with friends.

This year’s line-up has three award winners fresh off the stages of Makhanda National Arts Festival. Paul Noko's Fruit, Athena Mazarakis' Unfathomable and the Kwasa Theatre Company's Currently Gold. In addition to these great shows, the The Wits School of Music will perform their annual Wits Trio Concert playing at the Atrium. 

The 969 Festival is a week long theatre affair for all ages. Bring the kids to see The Young Scientist written and directed by Thandiwe Sekhibane. This witty piece of children's theatre asks, "Can we view children as scientists and complete humans? And, do adult humans give a fair chance to children to perform to their fullest potential?" Thought-provoking work such as this is the order of the 2019 WITS Theatre 969 Festival, so don't miss out.

When Is It?

Thursday, 18 July 2019 - Sunday, 28 July 2019. 

To view show dates and times, click here.

Where Is It?

WITS Theatre, 24 Station Street, (Cnr Jorissen Street), Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

How Much Is It?

Tickets cost between R30 - R90 per person for each show. Book your tickets online via Webtickets.

For more information

For more information, visit the WITS Theatre website, or follow them on social media for event updates:

Facebook - facebook.com/Wits-Theatre-103193993052344

Twitter - twitter.com/witstheatre

Instagram - instagram.com/witstheatre

Contact the Box Office on 011 717 1381 or via email at [email protected]

The Makhanda National Arts Festival

The Makhanda National Arts Festival has a history rooted in inclusivity and freedom of expression. Established in 1974, the festival has always welcomed people of all races, gender identities and cultural heritages. The NAF is an 11 day festival curated by an artistic committee and independent talent scouts. Spread over at least 90 different venues, the festival showcases both a Main programme, an Arena programme and the Fringe festival in association with the World Fringe Alliance. Artists of varying disciplines are invited to present their work. This includes theatre practitioners, fine artists, performance artists, film makers, musicians, academics and youth development organisations.

Makhanda National Arts Festival

Surviving the madness

The NAF experience is exciting, overwhelming and mind-blowing all at once. There is so much going on at all times, that it becomes difficult to choose what to see when. We recommend that before you make the 969 km trip down to Makhanda, you get your hands on the full festival programme. Available from takealot.com for only R75, the programme covers the Main, Arena, Fringe festival and free events line-ups.

Alternatively, you can visit the NAF website to view and download the various programmes. Make a list of all the shows that set your heart a-flutter with excitement and anticipation. Draw up a budget for yourself, too. While most of the shows are ticketed for under *R200 per person, costs pile up as you add events to your daily schedule. Still, make sure to pre-book at least five shows before the festival, as tickets sell out fast, especially for Main programme events. But, don’t limit your schedule too much, as spontaneity is the order of the day in Makhanda. Leave yourself enough time to explore, make new friends and shop up a storm at the Village Green Fair hosted on the Victoria Girls High School’s Sports Field. 

Hint: Watch out for the donkeys! Or, cows. Each year the NAF is visited by an array of farm animals. No one knows where they come from, nor how long they will stick around for. Embrace the craziness of small town living and clear the path for Makhanda's VIP's.

Makhanda National Arts Festival

Village Green Fair

Getting around

Making your way around Makhanda during Fest is almost as complicated as navigating a Joburg taxi rank (okay, maybe not as complicated but nevertheless it takes a little practice). What we are about to suggest next may shock you, but bear with us - don’t travel by car. Entrust your feet with getting you around town. There is no better way to see and feel the spirit of the festival. And, it’s great exercise! We will warn you though that some venues are totally inaccessible on foot. The Monument, which plays host to most of the Main programme shows is situated up a gargantuan hill. Unless you are a former Everest climber or possess wicked Spidey skills, we don’t suggest that you attempt to scale this hill on your own accord.

But, never fear - the tuks tuks of Makhanda are here to save the day! These tiny yellow buggies can be found buzzing around the streets at all times of day and night. For minimal charge, they will cart you from one venue to the next. Make friends with your tuk tuk driver - they know all the best restaurants, bars and undercover venues. Keep their number handy, because you never know when you will need a lift. Alternatively, catch a Hopper - these good, old minibus taxis transport visitors to and from main venue points. Hoppers run on donations, so please be generous with tips.

Download the National Arts Festival App to find Hopper drop-off and pick-up points. 

Makhanda

Eating, drinking and sleeping

Makhanda streets are dotted with a number of quaint eateries. Whether you are looking for a hearty meal, a cafe-style snack or a hangover cure, there will be a restaurant to suit your needs. However, if you are looking for a place that caters to all three of these requirements, pop by Revelations Coffee Shop and Restaurant. Their menu features R50, R60 and R70 budget options meals. A favourite is the homemade chicken pie with thrice-cooked chips (yum!). Looking for something devilishly delicious? Try out Revelation's adult milkshakes. The Chocolate Velvet made with chocolate ice cream, Amarula and Cape Velvet is to die for.

Makhanda also offers a wide range of accommodations during Fest season. From high school boarding houses to luxury game lodges, there is somewhere to lay your head no matter the budget. For the brave, there are campsites available too. The most important factor to consider when choosing your digs is warmth. Makhanda weather is more unpredictable than a theatre diva on a diet. Make sure to check whether your hotel, BnB or university residence offers additional blankets and heaters. Also keep in mind that Makhanda is a water scarce town. There may be water restrictions in place, so please keep those showers or baths short. Rather layer up your clothing or grab a glass of Gluhwein at your nearest pub to keep warm.

If you are planning to eat out on the regular during Fest or are in need of last-minute accommodation, visit the NAF website. Browse through their online Hospitality Guide to find all the best restaurants and accommodation offers.

Revelations Coffee Shop

Revelations Coffee Shop & Restaurant

What’s On at NAF 2019

The NAF programme for 2019 is way too long to list here. However, we have spotted a couple of must-see shows to keep in mind when planning your trip.

Theatre

Third World Bunfight - Samson by Brett Bailey

Brett Bailey's work is known for being controversial, difficult and an assault on the senses. But, don't let this scare you away. Third World Bunfight -Samson is Bailey's highly-anticipated new lyrical, sharp-edged, apocalyptic music-theatre piece. Catch it at the Rhodes Theatre between Thursday, 27 June 2019 and Saturday, 29 June 2019.

Music

The Eastern Cape Jazz Showcase

The Eastern Cape Jazz showcase is an annual event at the NAF. Presenting the Eastern Cape's up-and-coming jazzists, as well as seasoned professionals, this is a feast for the ears. Catch it at Nombulelo Hall from Monday, 1 July 2019 to Friday, 5 July 2019. 

Film

Sew the Winter to my Skin 

Sew The Winter to My Skin is a South African Western-style epic, set in a time when Apartheid was being written into law and Afrikaner nationalism was rising. If you haven't yet seen this Robin Hood-esque biopic, make time during Fest to catch at the Olive Schreiner venue. It will be screened on Friday, 28 June 2019 and Friday, 5 July 2019 at 20:30.

To book tickets to these shows and more, click here

For more information

The Makhanda National Arts Festival 2019 will take place from Thursday, 27 June 2019 - Sunday, 07 July 2019.

For more information, visit the NAF website. Give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for festival updates.

Contact the Box Office on 0860 002 004 or via email at [email protected]

Happy Fest!

The Makhanda National Arts Festival

The Makhanda National Arts Festival has a history rooted in inclusivity and freedom of expression. Established in 1974, the festival has always welcomed people of all races, gender identities and cultural heritages. The NAF is an 11 day festival curated by an artistic committee and independent talent scouts. Spread over at least 90 different venues, the festival showcases both a Main programme, an Arena programme and the Fringe festival in association with the World Fringe Alliance. Artists of varying disciplines are invited to present their work. This includes theatre practitioners, fine artists, performance artists, film makers, musicians, academics and youth development organisations.

Makhanda National Arts Festival

Surviving the madness

The NAF experience is exciting, overwhelming and mind-blowing all at once. There is so much going on at all times, that it becomes difficult to choose what to see when. We recommend that before you make the 969 km trip down to Makhanda, you get your hands on the full festival programme. Available from takealot.com for only R75, the programme covers the Main, Arena, Fringe festival and free events line-ups.

Alternatively, you can visit the NAF website to view and download the various programmes. Make a list of all the shows that set your heart a-flutter with excitement and anticipation. Draw up a budget for yourself, too. While most of the shows are ticketed for under *R200 per person, costs pile up as you add events to your daily schedule. Still, make sure to pre-book at least five shows before the festival, as tickets sell out fast, especially for Main programme events. But, don’t limit your schedule too much, as spontaneity is the order of the day in Makhanda. Leave yourself enough time to explore, make new friends and shop up a storm at the Village Green Fair hosted on the Victoria Girls High School’s Sports Field. 

Hint: Watch out for the donkeys! Or, cows. Each year the NAF is visited by an array of farm animals. No one knows where they come from, nor how long they will stick around for. Embrace the craziness of small town living and clear the path for Makhanda's VIP's.

Makhanda National Arts Festival

Village Green Fair

Getting around

Making your way around Makhanda during Fest is almost as complicated as navigating a Joburg taxi rank (okay, maybe not as complicated but nevertheless it takes a little practice). What we are about to suggest next may shock you, but bear with us - don’t travel by car. Entrust your feet with getting you around town. There is no better way to see and feel the spirit of the festival. And, it’s great exercise! We will warn you though that some venues are totally inaccessible on foot. The Monument, which plays host to most of the Main programme shows is situated up a gargantuan hill. Unless you are a former Everest climber or possess wicked Spidey skills, we don’t suggest that you attempt to scale this hill on your own accord.

But, never fear - the tuks tuks of Makhanda are here to save the day! These tiny yellow buggies can be found buzzing around the streets at all times of day and night. For minimal charge, they will cart you from one venue to the next. Make friends with your tuk tuk driver - they know all the best restaurants, bars and undercover venues. Keep their number handy, because you never know when you will need a lift. Alternatively, catch a Hopper - these good, old minibus taxis transport visitors to and from main venue points. Hoppers run on donations, so please be generous with tips.

Download the National Arts Festival App to find Hopper drop-off and pick-up points. 

Makhanda

Eating, drinking and sleeping

Makhanda streets are dotted with a number of quaint eateries. Whether you are looking for a hearty meal, a cafe-style snack or a hangover cure, there will be a restaurant to suit your needs. However, if you are looking for a place that caters to all three of these requirements, pop by Revelations Coffee Shop and Restaurant. Their menu features R50, R60 and R70 budget options meals. A favourite is the homemade chicken pie with thrice-cooked chips (yum!). Looking for something devilishly delicious? Try out Revelation's adult milkshakes. The Chocolate Velvet made with chocolate ice cream, Amarula and Cape Velvet is to die for.

Makhanda also offers a wide range of accommodations during Fest season. From high school boarding houses to luxury game lodges, there is somewhere to lay your head no matter the budget. For the brave, there are campsites available too. The most important factor to consider when choosing your digs is warmth. Makhanda weather is more unpredictable than a theatre diva on a diet. Make sure to check whether your hotel, BnB or university residence offers additional blankets and heaters. Also keep in mind that Makhanda is a water scarce town. There may be water restrictions in place, so please keep those showers or baths short. Rather layer up your clothing or grab a glass of Gluhwein at your nearest pub to keep warm.

If you are planning to eat out on the regular during Fest or are in need of last-minute accommodation, visit the NAF website. Browse through their online Hospitality Guide to find all the best restaurants and accommodation offers.

Revelations Coffee Shop

Revelations Coffee Shop & Restaurant

What’s On at NAF 2019

The NAF programme for 2019 is way too long to list here. However, we have spotted a couple of must-see shows to keep in mind when planning your trip.

Theatre

Third World Bunfight - Samson by Brett Bailey

Brett Bailey's work is known for being controversial, difficult and an assault on the senses. But, don't let this scare you away. Third World Bunfight -Samson is Bailey's highly-anticipated new lyrical, sharp-edged, apocalyptic music-theatre piece. Catch it at the Rhodes Theatre between Thursday, 27 June 2019 and Saturday, 29 June 2019.

Music

The Eastern Cape Jazz Showcase

The Eastern Cape Jazz showcase is an annual event at the NAF. Presenting the Eastern Cape's up-and-coming jazzists, as well as seasoned professionals, this is a feast for the ears. Catch it at Nombulelo Hall from Monday, 1 July 2019 to Friday, 5 July 2019. 

Film

Sew the Winter to my Skin 

Sew The Winter to My Skin is a South African Western-style epic, set in a time when Apartheid was being written into law and Afrikaner nationalism was rising. If you haven't yet seen this Robin Hood-esque biopic, make time during Fest to catch at the Olive Schreiner venue. It will be screened on Friday, 28 June 2019 and Friday, 5 July 2019 at 20:30.

To book tickets to these shows and more, click here

For more information

The Makhanda National Arts Festival 2019 will take place from Thursday, 27 June 2019 - Sunday, 07 July 2019.

For more information, visit the NAF website. Give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for festival updates.

Contact the Box Office on 0860 002 004 or via email at [email protected]

Happy Fest!