04 October 2022 | Story Gerda-Marié van Rooyen | Photo Sonia Small
UFS Drama
With the short holiday break for students, the University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus turns into a gathering place for artists, intellectuals, and those interested in culture. The UFS is once again hosting the annual Vrystaat Arts Festival.

It is holiday break for students and during this short recess period, the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus has been transformed into a flourishing destination for the arts. The UFS is once again hosting the annual Vrystaat Arts Festival.

The festival started on Sunday 2 October 2022 with a magical First Nations opening at Mooimeisiesfontein. This ceremony was in recognition of the Khoisan as traditional inhabitants of our land. Following the motto: ‘One festival, many stories’, Mark Anthony Dobson, festival organiser, says this festival is open for all. “I can’t imagine having this arts festival anywhere else. Having the UFS host the festival is wonderful,” says Dobson.

Confirming the festival’s appreciation for inclusion, 130 students from different faculties and departments are being employed on an ad hoc basis this week. “This even allows for a medical student to work backstage. They only had to be willing, able, and their schedules had to allow it,” explains Dobson about the criteria used.

Attendees can look forward to a wide variety of productions to be seen on the much-acclaimed, high-quality stages on campus. Several drama students will show their talent in the production Die kat is uit die sak (The cat is out of the bag) under the direction of UFS Drama and Theatre Arts Lecturer, Thys Heydenrych.

Staying true to the nature of a university as a space for intellectual exchange, there will be various discussions between academics, influencers, businesspeople, and journalists. One such discussion is ‘A look into the future of South Africa’, which is part of the Thought-Leader Series. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, will facilitate this discussion in the Albert Wessels Auditorium on 6 October at 10:00. Guests include Moeletsi Mbeki, Deputy Chairperson of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA); Pieter du Toit, Assistant Editor: In-depth news at News24; and Dr Mareve Biljohn, Head of the Department of Public Administration and Management at the 
For those looking to buy some vibrant art or enjoy the feeling of the festival, bring some money or remember your bank card to enjoy the craft market that is set to open on Tuesday 4 October 2022. Some stalls and art exhibitions will be held in residences and various buildings on campus. Those who love visual arts will be rejoiced to hear that entry for some exhibitions are free, such as the Beeldspraak exhibition hosted in the Centenary Building. Bookworms can look forward to various book discussions and launches during the week of festivities, while diverse musicians will steal the limelight at the Blêrkas.

A day pass is R20 per person, and children under five get free admission. An average of 3000 visitors is expected daily. Visitors can enjoy the arts with the reassuring thought that the UFS Protection Services, together with members of the SAPS and a private security company, will keep an eye on everyone’s safety. 

The full festival programme is available here

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