Way to go UFS Drama! 
Drama staff, students, and alumni took the Vrystaat Arts Festival by storm!

The Vrystaat Arts Festival annually hosts productions by staff, students, and alumni from the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts.

This year was no exception with several productions from theatre for young audiences to serious dramas performed at the Main and Vrynge Festival. The festival ran from 11 – 15 July 2023 on the UFS Campus. 

Five professional productions featured at the Main Festival. A ten-minute extract of Fragmented, written by Jane Mpholo, showcased at the 2022 Teksmark. Now a fully-developed script starred Mpholo under the direction of Peter Taljaard, both alumni. 

Incognito, by Nick Payne, directed by Thys Heydenrych, Lecturer and Programme Director, featured Barend Kriel and Jani Marais, both staff members, and MA students Daniëlle Doubell and DJ Kruger. The four actors played a combined 21 characters within three interwoven stories asking “what it means to be human”. Incognito was nominated for Best Set Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Marketing. Daniëlle Doubell and DJ Kruger were both nominated for Best Emerging Artist. DJ Kruger was awarded the Kobus Rossouw Prize for Best Emerging Free State Artist.  

Die fel omstrede kroon, Edward II & Gaveston, featuring alumnus Wilhelm van der Walt, was directed by Martinus Basson and Van der Walt won the prize for Best Supporting Interpretation. The production was also nominated for Best Set Design and Best Costume Design.  

In the double-bill comedy Ou Wyntoon en die weerlose kreatuur & Die Oudisie, adapted, translated, and directed by Nico Luwes, the former Head of the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts, festival-goers had the chance to laugh twice as hard. Staff member and Programme Director Thys Heydenrych performed in Die Oudisie, together with alumni Chanmari Erasmus and Peter Taljaard

Woelige Willemien en haar maatjie, Meraaitjie, written by Karen Combrinck and directed by Marijda Kamper, both staff members at the Drama Department featured several alumni:  Stella Nortier, Marnique Terblanche, Melane Hamman, Nico Taljaard, Charl HenningCW Laten and Hester Maree

Several productions by students and alumni were staged at the Vrynge Festival. Deidré, directed by honours student, Lize-Mari Malan, featured Barend Kriel , a staff member, and honours students Juné Pretorius, Mia Kahts, and Anneri Bisschoff. Die Skuldeiser, an Afrikaans adaptation of August Strindberg’s Creditors is a tragic-comedy translated and directed by Paquot, a staff member at the Drama Department, featuring alumni Tiaan Gerber, CW Laten, and Mia Kahts. Die Skuldeiser was nominated for Best Marketing. Omhoog was written and directed by Nic Beukes, a staff member, with alumni CW Laten, Anneri Bisschoff, Juné Pretorius, and staff members Lorenzo Dampies, and Paquot. Nic Beukes was nominated for Best Ground-breaking Work as a playwright. The Dead Sun was a complete student production directed and written by Gert Hay, with Dinga Mpiti, Jaano de Bruin, Monde Ngwenya, Lonwabo Likayi, Lungelo Makhathini, and Fika Majozini. In the realm of Theatre for Young Audiences Tom en Tracey in Tandeland! written and directed by Lize-Mari Malan with alumni Erik Walter Curlewis, Jené Heymans, Claudi Els, and honours student Amíra-Xandria van Biljon, attracted children of all ages.

Alumnus Charl Henning won the Best Emerging Artist prize with his Daki Vuka Emaqandeni performance. He showcased his talent for comedy in Narrewales which was brought to the stage by The Bloemfontein Clowning Troupe.

Students and alumni also took part in other events at the festival. Daniëlle Doubell and Demi du Plessis, both students, took part in a story-hour at the Literature Festival. They read Die Avonture van Skapie-Mê!, a selection of four stories by Perle du Plessis. Hanro Cloete, MA student, assisted the Marketing and Media Coordinator during the festival. Daniëlle also coordinated artists on the two open stages on the festival grounds. Several students and alumni worked as technical crew (stage managers, stagehands, lighting and sound operators) and front-of-house personnel (venue managers and ushers) in various venues during the festival.   

The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts would like to congratulate the Vrystaat Arts Festival and its Festival Director, Michael Garbett, and his team on a successful festival this year. We are pleased to say that Michael Garbett and some of his team members, Mark Dobson (Marketing and Development Manager), Isabel Lock (Programme Manager) and Michelle Horn (Technical Manager) are also alumni. You make us proud and we hope to continue our collaboration. 

A word from the Festival Director - Michael Garbett

As the director of the Vrystaat Arts Festival, I am thrilled to take a moment to share my thoughts on the incredible journey we've embarked upon this year, particularly highlighting the extraordinary contribution of our esteemed Drama Department of the University of the Free State.

This year's Vrystaat Arts Festival has been a tapestry of creativity, culture, and camaraderie. Our festival's ethos of celebrating the arts in all its forms has been exemplified by the Drama Department's remarkable participation. Their dedication, passion, and sheer talent have woven a spellbinding narrative that captivated audiences and ignited conversations.

It brings me immense pride to announce that our Drama Department has received well-deserved nominations that stand as a testament to their exceptional craft. Their thought-provoking performances, intricately woven plots, and emotive character portrayals have resonated deeply with both critics and audiences alike. The nominations garnered are a recognition not only of their artistry but also of their ability to transcend boundaries and touch the hearts of those who have had the privilege to witness their work.

As we continue to celebrate the achievements of our Drama Department, let us also take a moment to acknowledge the collaborative spirit that has fueled this success. The festival is a canvas where diverse talents converge, and it's through these artistic partnerships that we truly showcase the power of the human imagination.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to each member of the Drama Department for their outstanding contributions and achievements. Their dedication has elevated our festival and enriched the cultural landscape of Free State. Let us relish this moment and look forward to the continued growth and impact of our artistic endeavors.

Thank you for your unwavering support and enthusiasm, which have played an integral role in making this year's Vrystaat Arts Festival an unforgettable experience. Together, we shape the future of the arts.

Michael Garbett


T: +27 51 401 2240 or humanities@ufs.ac.za

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Phyllis Masilo: +27 51 401 9683

Humanities photo next to contact block

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