Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

This has to be one of my favourite plays so far this year.  It’s an intelligent, witty, sexy, complex and rather bonkers production. Watching the stories unfold is a bit of a psychedelic experience: a complete sensory stimulation.  I will go see it again. The Mechanical Theatre Collective’s Lovborg’s Women is returning to the stage on 13 September 2011.

Click the link  below for pics and a full review:

Lovborg’s Women

Artists celebrate the life of a living legend.
First published in Cape Times 16 July

‘The 1960 Holden station wagon had no starter and needed a few pints of oil to get going, yet it was our only option.  Passed the hat around to fill the tank with juice.  Held our breath that Sampie’s father won’t find out that we had taken the vehicle – again’.  Akbar Khan recalls one of many anti-apartheid rallies of 1985.  It was a time when black political leaders and peaceful protesters were thrown into jail where they often ‘disappeared’.  Angry students took to the streets and the fear in the air was tangible.  It was also a time, Akbar says, when a lot of artists were writing love songs and many people were in denial about what was happening in South Africa.

Robbie Jansen and Akbar Khan  photo by John Edwin Mason

Robbie Jansen and Akbar Khan photo by John Edwin Mason

On the night in question a group of musicians and friends were on their way to perform protests songs.  Akbar recalls how the back of the Holden hung low,’fully loaded with drums and amplifiers’. “We used all the back roads and tried not to look suspicious,” he recalls. “The police and soldiers had gathered around and did not like what was happening.  The loudhailer blared to life. We slowly decoded the message, ‘You have 3 minutes to disperse!’.  All hell broke loose. We scrambled to disconnect the sound equipment as the seconds drained away. Teargas in the air.  The starter does not work.  We need a push! Hands join in from everywhere and the old Holden gains momentum. Teargas piping through the air. We split the pack and make it through the gates.”

Akbar and his revolutionary buddies wrote a song called Nelson in 1977 that was in direct defiance against the security police at the time.  Randolph Hartzenberg, an art teacher at Alexander Sinton in Athlone, wrote the lyrics and Akbar the music.    Akbar recalls Randolph as the teacher with the long hair, “the teacher you don’t have to call sir.”  ‘Just call me Randy’. “I was very influenced by him,” says Akbar.  “He took us to the revolutionary films and taught us about Crosby, Stills and Nash.  Randolph called me up the one day after Winnie Mandela was banned to the Orange Free State and said, ‘Can you see what is happening on the ground?  We have to write a song about this’. And so Nelson, the song, was conceived.  The song captured the zeitgeist of apartheid South Africa with is police brutality on the one hand and masses of persecuted people on the other. The musicians involved became the voice of the subjugated masses.

Melanie Scholtz and Amanda Tiffin photo by John Edwin Mason

Melanie Scholtz and Amanda Tiffin photo by John Edwin Mason

The song originally sung by Akbar’s band Cold Bones was then adopted by the band called Raakwys which hailed from the Oaklands High School in Athlone.  The band became a popular feature at rallies thereafter and was driven around by Akbar who was the band’s main inspiration.

Today a new version of the song has been recorded just in time for Madiba who turns 92 on Sunday.   This version of the song features Melanie Scholtz and South African jazz saxophonist legend Robbie Jansen who sadly passed away on 7 June after a long battle with emphysema.  The song is described as an acoustic rendition that showcases new musical arrangements featuring strings and sax.   Akbar says he wanted to re-record the song as he wanted to bring it into a whole new generation and what better way than by using a young contemporary and popular artist such as Melanie Scholtz.

Melanie, who graduated cum laude from UCT’s Opera school in 2001, rapidly established a reputation as an excellent Jazz singer having played at clubs during her studies.  “After Aki asked me to be the main vocalist for the song I listened over and over to the original recording of 1977,” Melanie recalls. “I was only born in 1979 so I really needed to get a feeling for the times that inspired this song so I could be true to it.  Melanie says the new version has many more elements to it than the original.  There are bits with Madiba’s voice over on it and Amanda Tiffin’s direction of a choir.

Melanie Scholtz photo by John Edwin Mason

“It is more of a celebratory piece in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s life,” says Melanie. “It’s such an honour to have been chosen to do this song and to add my voice to something so important.  Aki really trusted me to bring this song to life.”  On the loss of Robbie Jansen Melanie says. “I worked with Robbie on more than one occasion.  He had an incredible presence and he was very humble.  He used his saxophone to tell his stories.  Robbie was already on a support machine for his emphysema yet it did not stop him from performing.  He wanted to do more, sing more.  He was always so happy to extend himself into the music.  Right now I am just trying to digest that he is no longer around.  We so often don’t make the connections that you want to make in this life but I am honoured to have had the opportunity to work with him.”

It is a big year for Melanie who released her second album Connected in February and her third album Living Standards in April. She also won the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz Awards.  Melanie says Connected is very much about the celebration of life and death and us being very connected to nature.   “Whereas Living Standards highlights some new South African standards by Carlo Mombelli and Buddy Wells and it has allowed me to explore the world of song interpretation and lyric writing.”

Melanie and Robbie’s new version of Nelson may be downloaded from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWesc6_Fyk8.

Robbie Jansen’s memorial service is taking place this Saturday at the His People Church in Cape Town

The End

New Cape Town theatre opens its doors.
First published in the Sunday Independent, 21 October ‘09
By Astrid Stark

Cape Town’s theatre industry appears to be thriving despite the economic downturn.  The New Africa Theatre Association NATA, in partnership with the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden, has lifted the curtains on The New Africa Theatre in Sybrand Park with award-winning Ian Bruce’s new play, Transit.

Ian Bruce, who is also the Managing Director of NATA, has won among others, the Fleur du Cap award for his most recent work, Groundswell, which has travelled to New York and Stockholm.  Bruce, a keen anti-apartheid campaigner, has been with NATA since 1998.  Here he works with marginalised communities and, together with his wife, he has written several educational and industrial theatre pieces.

The New Africa Theatre is situated along the Klipfontein corridor which borders Athlone and Rondebosch. This makes the venue accessible to Cape Town audiences from the flats’ side as well as Southern Suburb audiences. Bruce explains the thinking behind the theatre’s location. “We have great potential to reach audiences from both sides of the apartheid created dividing line,” says Bruce. “We need this in Cape Town as theatres closer to the central business district are still inaccessible to most Capetonians.  Attracting new audiences to the city theatres, no matter what effort you make, is always restricted by distances, transport and the cost of tickets. We have to still find out how successful we will be, but we believe we are in a much better position to reach marginalised audiences.” Bruce says their vision is to be able to offer good shows while keeping the costs down.

The New Africa Theatre, which used to be a supermarket, is an 80-seater box theatre which Bruce says has the potential to grow a lot bigger. “We actually have architect’s plans to renovate and re-appoint the whole building so that both the academy and the theatre can expand,” says Bruce.  

Sybrand Park is a quiet, little known, suburb with a culturally diverse middle class population which is starting to ignite the imagination of home-buyers and small businesses. “Transit is set in a small space although the story has vast resonances across two continents,” he explains, “I think our little box theatre is like that.  It’s a small space, in a historically resonant area, where we expect to tell many and far-reaching stories.”

Clare Stopford directs Transit which tells the tale of an ill-fated flight from Cape Town to Stockholm.  The plane is detoured by a storm and is forced to make an unscheduled stop in a North African country; which has been destabilised by rebels.  An assortment of Europeans and Africans are forced to wait in the claustrophobic transit area of a military airport. The passengers engage with each other in opportunistic, manipulative, and even physical ways that has sweeping consequences. “My script accommodates a descriptive clash of African and European aspirations and anxieties,” says Bruce, “But it also becomes, more importantly for our times, a cross-continental drama of human need, resilience and possibility.” 

NEW AFRICA THEATRE - TRANSIT Peshang Rad (Sweden) & music maker Ladji Kánte - photo Andrew Brown

For Bruce, writing about the relationship between two continents was difficult, “I didn’t really get the concept right until we had the mixed cast together,” he says, “What we did have was the situation, the metaphor, a kind of suspension somewhere that was neither Europe nor Africa. This became an airport, and the airport became smaller and smaller until it was an all but abandoned military aerodrome in a North African country. That made it uncomfortable and intense enough to ensure that the characters could not avoid interfering with each other or revealing things about themselves.”Pernilla Luttropp of The Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden (Dramaten) is also the project leader of NATA. She will be collaborating with Bruce for three months before returning to Sweden. She says she’s enjoying working with the students at The New Africa Theatre. “Teaching them how they can contribute to the future of the new venue by doing outreach programmes,” says Luttropp.  “My vision for NATA is that it will be an institution where young people can start on a new journey in life that could end up in one of all the professions within and around the theatre industry. I hope they will be able to form a theatre company for the new venue and that students will get the possibility to learn all the different skills of theatre.”

True to Bruce’s script, the cast of Transit consists of a mixture of African and European actors.   The established and upcoming actors include Mbulelo Grootboom who graduated at New Africa Theatre in 1998, Bulelewa Sylvia Ntlantlu from Delft that graduated at NATA in 2008, and Melinda Kinnaman, Peshang Rad and Christina Samson from Sweden.   They are joined by a West African Griot, a travelling musician, Aboubacar Ladji Kánte.  Bruce says Kánte was discovered on Facebook by a group of local musicians who asked him to teach them more about the Djambe. “In Transit Kánte plays himself, a griot,” says Bruce, “Even though he says very little, his music is very much a part of the play’s narrative, and his character is central to at least one of the play’s plot lines.”

 Bruce is positive about Cape Town’s theatre industry, “It’s expanding, growing stronger.  New theatre companies are emerging, launching new work and the current theatre venues are booked up far in advance. The voices of playwrights and directors seem to me to be growing stronger, clearer; more resonant. This has to grow; there are so many stories and there is so much talent in this city. Every week I meet young people with ideas. There’s exciting work coming out of the universities.”
Transit runs until 7 November at The New Africa Theatre in Sybrand Park, Cape Town.

The End.

Production:  partly god
Director : Lara Foot
Choreography: Ananda Fuchs, Sbonakaliso Ndaba, Ina Wichterich, John Linden, Alfred Hinkel and Jackie Manyaapelo.
Designer:  Craig Leo
Music Composed & Performed by: Neo Muyanga
Reviewer: Astrid Stark

 First published in Cape Times

 Disturbing entertainment seeks to offer message of hope.

 He is on his back. His legs are strapped to the arms of a rusted wheelbarrow.  Someone rushes at him and kicks violently at the wheelbarrow.    The force whips the captive man’s body into the air before it cracks back to the floor – shuddering.  Another man rushes at him; and another. The sadistic process is repeated countless times, with increased brutality, until the vicious mob’s energy is spent and the man’s body lies lifeless on the floor.

This scene performed by a troupe of Jazzart dancers embodies Partly God’s themes of trans-generational trauma, hatred, and xenophobia and mob violence.  Through the use of dance, music and poetry, the violent nature of humankind is dissected and exposed.  It is not an easy performance to watch; yet it’s morbidly fascinating. It is weird, violent and disturbing.

The performance’s narrative is that of a young man’s journey to find his father.  His spirit guide is a boy soldier that leads him along a path of hatred, fear and violence to eventual healing and enlightenment – thus supporting the notion that we are all partly god. The stage is filled with the writhing, lithe young bodies of 33 young dancers that tell this story of transcending violence and redemption. The dancers’ perfectly sculptured and toned bodies tell a story of complete dedication and rigid training.   

No less than six choreographers worked on this project and, to my taste, this resulted in various degrees of success and failure. A slow opening is followed by an uneven and not all too pleasing pace.  It may be said that dancing does not necessarily lend itself to a linear narrative, I find pleasing ebb and flow and an underlying, even if faint, rhythmic pulse to a production an essential ingredient.  At times the performance sagged and events were over-performed and endlessly repeated.  For Example Douglas Griffith’s portrayal as the protagonist enters a scene with his ‘father’.  Griffith’s character as the son seeks affection from his cold, father who aggressively rejects his son. Both actors’ performances are heart-breaking portrayals of the sadistic and masochistic relationships that we often nurture, and even seek out, in our quest for love and acceptance. It is beautifully choreographed and thought-provoking but it just carries on for far too long. I get it and want to move on. However perhaps this repetition is deemed necessary to drive the message home and ensures that it lingers on.   

That said, it appears as if the influence of so many, and varied, choreographers created astounding dance and movement combinations.  The exploration by the choreographers of our unique African rhythms and moves turns the spotlight on our distinctive style that will hopefully become ingrained in the world’s history of dance.  The dancers’ energy and passion is without fault.  It is difficult to highlight individual dancers as the entire cast is obviously completely committed to their craft. They glide across the stage and perform daring acts that involves masterful balancing and rhythm.

Set designer Craig Leo cathedral with ramps, platforms, and broken gothic arches creates an apocalyptic feeling.  A large net is suspended from the ceiling and it’s here that some of the most breathtaking action takes place.  Without wanting to give away too much; the net is used for heart racing stunts that only superbly trained, strong and confident dancers could accomplish with such ease and skill. The net becomes a metaphor for, among other things, a dividing wall that the dancers have to conquer. The net is the Berlin wall, Apartheid, hatred, and our own debilitating fear that we must overcome.  The result is a vivid, disturbing and brilliantly choreographed scene that lingers long after the show has ended.

The sound needs some attention as most of the poetry and spoken words were inaudible from the back.  Neo Muyanga’s original score of music sets the pace and mood of the performance reflecting the violence but also the themes of rebirth and hope.  Director Lara Foot says working without words, which is her usual theatrical medium, was at once challenging and liberating.  Her admiration for the dedicated cast has no bounds and she is a firm believer that dance and the arts can be the answer to the challenge of transcendence.

partly god runs at Artscape until October 25. The End.

The danger of narratives of hate (poem from partly god)

transgenerational violence.

I have to pass you my narrative
I’m sorry that it is one of shame
It was passed to me by my father
And before that by his father to him

You can wear it quietly
You can hide it somewhere on your person
You can try to peel it from your skin like an orange
But it will be there and it will be told

It is not yours, but it will become you
It is hungry and it will eat you
And it will kill you
As it has done me
As it has … done me

Review:  SwingTime
Artistic Director:  Sean Bovim
Lighting Design:  Patrick Curtis
Set Design: Karl Staub & YWorks
Reviewer:  Astrid Stark

First published in The Cape Times
Give ‘em the old Razzle Dazzle. 

It was a time of smoky cabaret halls where vaudeville dancers toyed with shorter hemlines and hairstyles, wore suspenders, and exposed their limbs; epitomising the liberated spirit of the flapper sub-culture.  It was the roaring twenties.  A time when the Great Depression and prohibition drove rebellious boys and girls underground in search of hedonistic pleasures.  Sean Bovim’s revamp of his 2003 production of SwingTime is an uncommon marriage between Swing and Ballet.  Bovim combines Broadway, jazz and frenetic Swing steps like the Charleston, Hop, Jive and Lindy, with the controlled and delicate beauty of Ballet.  Bovim himself admits, “Putting the Charleston en pointe is extremely hard on the knees and requires a superb sense of balance.”

The curtain rises with the Bovim Ballet troupe performing to the fabulous Sing Sing Sing made famous by Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman.  It takes a little while to wrap your head around the curious mixture of jazz and ballet, but the sheer delight on the dancers’ faces and the foot stomping music soon infects the crowd. 

Karl Staub & YWorks’ stage design is a breathtaking backdrop depicting a New York cityscape, complete with Empire State Building and twinkling lights. For the most part Bovim strategically places his dancers in front of the backdrop to great effect, though it may need another look before it could be considered fully effective. 

KLûK and CGDT, who designed the wardrobe for Bovim’s Tango Nights, again created the most exquisite masterpieces for SwingTime.  Slinky red satin dresses wildly twirl and glide as the dancers are swung through the air. Cute short flapper dresses that display generous amounts of flesh, and figure hugging hot pants around lithe ballet hips, had us all mesmerised.  It also helps that all 16 members of the cast are young, drop dead gorgeous, and glide about on slender limbs which are toned to perfection from punishing exercise regimes.

The musical score include Unforgettable, It had to be you, Mack the knife, Under my skin and many more adored Broadway, Big Band and Jazz hits.  What’s new to Bovim’s 2009 version of the production is the addition of vocalist Franscois Lliam who has performed in Jesus Christ Superstar and We Will Rock You.  I am not convinced of Lliam’s voice and performance as a sultry jazz crooner, but then I am a die-hard Sinatra fan, and so for me there really is only one velvety voiced croon master.  However, Lliam’s presence on stage adds a lovely personal touch instead of simply hearing the recorded music being played to dancing.  Another nice addition is the intermittent performance of a violinist, Francois Arzul.  Lliam only sings a selected few songs including Miss Jones, Fever, Mr Bojangles, and some others. 

The performance tells the story of Mr Bojangles which in turn is punctuated by the various songs and dancers.  Mr Bojangles – in his heyday – was the shining star of a Swing club.  The music takes us from Bojangles’ youthful romantic liaisons with guests at the club and playing rowdy drunken games with sailors, until he finds himself in his old age as lonely caretaker of the club; reminiscing about on his past pleasures.  The story line feels flimsy and can do with a bit more dramatic flourish. Maybe it’s the lighting, maybe it simply gets overwhelmed by the gorgeous, energetic cast, and the timeless music. It just does not really effectively gel the various dance performances together.  Grant Swift renders a heart wrenching performance of Mr Bojangles trying to do a youthful tap dance with his arthritic old body.

The dancing is energetic and the footwork fast and tricky. The choreography is at once old-school, fresh, weird and enchanting.  A dancer is gracefully lifted high into the air, she lands on her feet tapping to the Charleston before doing the splits; it looks very complicated and Bovim must be praised for his bravery and innovation.  At times the dancers seemed a little nervous and quite a few small mistakes slipped into an otherwise beautifully choreographed and interesting performance. 

SwingTime runs at The Baxter Theatre from Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at     6pm   From 2-12 December the performance will be on at the Oude Libertas in Stellenbosch.

THE END

Dirty Skirts; Photo by Grant Gifford

Dirty Skirts; Photo by Grant Gifford

First published in the Event newspaper: July 2009

A Hell’s Angel is pummeling a journalist for taking photos of his girlfriend, half-dressed bodies in various states of recovery are lying under thorn trees, a lone guy wearing only silver spray-paint and a security tape loincloth washes his breakfast down with a warm beer; and this is only the first morning after a typical Oppikoppi music festival.

The anti-establishment music festival, which is celebrating its 15th year in existence, will be rocking the dusty Limpopo town of Northam from 7-9 August. Organisers expect around 15 000 revelers at this year’s gig. President for life and self-proclaimed very Primed Minister, Carel Hoffmann, recalls how, during one of the festivals, his brother-in-law drove over someone’s knee with a double-decker bus, “The contraption they used to fix it still hangs in the bar,” Carel laughs.

In 1994 Boors and Tess Bornmann, who owns the Oppikoppie farm, started organising band weekends in Northam. Carel had just been posted at platinum mine next door to work back his bursary, and he and his varsity friends piled into the Bornmanns’ weekends. These were chaotic and wildly hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll affairs which lasted for three or more days.

“In 1995 Tess said we should try to get a festival going,” Carel remembers, “And that was really the start of it. We booked every single original music band in the rock ‘n’ roll arena. We did flyer and poster marketing for months, and in the end, attracted roughly 2000 people with 27 bands.”

Carel confesses that things still get pretty crazy at the festival. What had changed is that Oppikoppi has grown into a fully fledged events company with a very active booking and touring agency, sponsorship management divisions, and a below-the-line advertising agency.

Carel says the idea then (and now) was just to have a good time. “It sort of gathered pace, and a life of its own,” he laughs. Oppikoppi started branching out when people were asking the organisers to produce events for them. Soon, brand managers were enquiring about tours, activations, and all kinds of gimmickry around the country. “Oppikoppi was establishing itself as a brand name and people wanted a piece of that,” Says Carel, “At first we just had to get ourselves employed year round. We built up event after event to try and get a network going. From around year four or five; we were working on music full time.”

Oppikoppi’s artist booking agency is one of the busiest in the country. The company has also added rentals to their long list of services; offering production office infrastructure, two way radios, fire extinguishers, beer benches and tables, fencing, flag poles and much more.

A fairly recent division added is KoppiTV, which, in collaboration with other specialists, enables the company to create advertisements, television productions, and almost any form of audio visual work required.

Carel says that in South Africa tickets sales very rarely cover the full costs of any music show. They realised that in order to survive, they had to develop a way of working creatively with brands, whilst maintaining the integrity of the events. “I think this has been to a large extent what has kept us afloat in the last 15years,” says Carel. “It’s often much more tricky than people think to just cover costs on these events.

“We have a very open attitude to agencies and clients. In the last few years we have come to almost view ourselves as a type of media channel,” he explains, “Agencies buy activation rights from us to access certain target markets…it becomes a bit abstract.”

Oppikoppi has enjoyed long-time relationships with companies such as Vodacom, Levi’s Brandhouse, Old Mutual, and many others. “The fact that we have such a wide network allows us to do some pretty nifty stuff at cost effect rates,” Says Carel.

Oppikoppi must be doing something right. Carel confesses that they aim to grow their ancillary business with 20-30% per year. Last year saw around 300 000 people at the accumulated shows and the organisers are estimating that these figures will reach around 400 000 in 2009. “It’s a really exciting time to be in music,” says Carel. Some of the other events that Oppikoppi run are the Deurriemikke Carnival, the Emmarentia and Durban Music Series and the Rage for the Revolution music festival; to mention just a few. Carel confirms that planning for each year’s Oppikoppi starts as soon as the last one finishes, with organisational activities intensifying during the final eight months.

Carel feels that a strong entrepreneurial team with an unwavering love for the local music industry is one of the main ingredients of Oppikoppi’s success. “I think few people know how many hours go into these things,” says Carel, “ It often feels like the financial rewards are not really worth the risk or hours, but then you stand in front of a stage somewhere, with 10 000 people going apeshit, and you remember why you got into it all. I think people who don’t love music will not last. It’s just too much work.”

During Oppikoppi 2009 Smoorverlief, music lovers can look forward to around 80 live acts, which include established artists such as aKING, Parlotones, Koos Kombuis, Fokofpolisiekar; as well as promising new acts.

The End
Astrid Stark

First Published in Sunday Independent 5 July ‘09

 Roaring winter fires, a smorgasbord of award-winning restaurants, some of the finest wines, old world service, and plenty antiques, art- and bookshops make the quaint village of Franschhoek a perfect winter getaway.

Franschhoek roads are lined with vineyards and Cape Dutch homes. Photo: Astrid Stark

Franschhoek roads are lined with vineyards and Cape Dutch homes. Photo: Astrid Stark

Franschhoek is nestled in the heart of the Cape Winelands and under the protective gaze of the Groot Drakenstein mountains. Residents in the village refer to Franschhoek as the gourmet capital of the world. When the resident chefs are the legendary Margot Jansen, Neil Jewell , Reuben Riffel, Matthew Gordon, and the international and recently appointed executive chef of Le Franschhoek, Darren Roberts; it is easy to believe that you are in good hands. The main road is a collection of top restaurants and coffee shops such as Reuben’s, Bouillabaisse, and the understated Kalfies, where you can grab anything from a piping hot croissant and coffee, to a 6-course gastronomic feast.

Corrugated iron roofs, enormous flowerpots dripping with lavender, and fashionable Victorian ironwork known as ‘broekie lace’ decorates shop fronts and restaurants. Best of all; there is not a single fast food joint in sight. There are no less than 42 wineries in Franschhoek and the village boasts many innovative and progressive producers in SA among its wine farms. You can visit these farms either as part of a guided tour group, or by car, by bicycle, or by bumping along on a tractor. If you have tired a little of all things French you can catch a quick bite and pint at the comfy Elephant and Barrel English pub which serves up tasty pub fare at affordable prices. It boasts a selection of up to 30 English beers and it screens major sporting events. On weekend nights they feature local musicians. If you are lucky enough to visit on a busy night, the staff moves the furniture about, and you can boogie away on the makeshift dancefloor.

 This brings us to the nightlife in Franschhoek, of which – apart from dining out – there’s not an awful lot. Most restaurants offer winter specials and throw in creative food and wine pairings. Le Quartier Français’ 40 seat movie house shows nightly films, and they will toss in a glass of wine and some cheese balls at a ridiculously cheap price. It is during the big annual events, such as the Bastille Day Festival from 11-12 July, that the locals really come out to play. This year there will be a masked ball at Le Franschhoek Hotel, and Darren Roberts – who has cooked for the likes of Madiba, Brad Pitt and Val Kilmer- has prepared a mouth-watering menu for the occasion. There will be boules challenges, fresh farmers’ markets, and a barrel rolling competition. The colourful minstrels will be performing in the streets, French movies screened, and of course all the gorgeous food you can eat.

Photo 2, Franschhoek is known for its 'broekie lace' Victorian style decoration and corrugated iron roofs.  Photo: Astrid Stark

Photo 2, Franschhoek is known for its 'broekie lace' Victorian style decoration and corrugated iron roofs. Photo: Astrid Stark

At the chocolaterie in the main road you can indulge your inner chocoholic, and stock up on home-made preserves and souvenirs.

The Huguenot Memorial Museum is worth a visit for insights into the history of the area. The museum chronicles the history of the outlawed Protestants’ escape from France and their harrowing journey to the Cape of Good Hope. They were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Oliphantshoek; so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. Soon after they settled the area was baptised as Franschhoek.

Astrid Stark

 www.franschhoek.org.za 70 Huguenot Road Franschhoek, 7690. Tel: +27(0)21 876 3603 Fax: +27(0)21 876 2964