Free State Arts Festival gets underway

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The annual Free State Arts Festival gets underway in Bloemfontein this weekend. One of the draw cards will be a multinational theatre play aptly titled “Alpha”.

Alpha involves performers from the Netherlands, Belgium and South Africans. It targets the younger audience.

It’s a new way of breathing life into theatre and audience members will literally be kept on their feet throughout the action.

Alpha is a multi-lingual inter-disciplinary family performance for teens and adults.

Alpha Co-Director, Erwin Maas says: “The Free State Arts Festival came together and says it would really be fantastic if you could do project towards younger audience. And Stef has quite a lot of experience in making work also for young audiences in Belgium and I’ve done that in the past in the Netherlands, and we said that would be a nice international project with people from South Africa.”

Audiences are taken on an immersive theatre journey exploring dreams, thoughts and questions of South Africa’s newest generation.

Alpha Co-Director,  Stef De Paepe adds: “We have a bunch of wonderful people, seven actors from South Africa, trying to make performance which is special. It is not a traditional performance where you are seated in a venue and just look at the performance for two hours. You can walk and you can watch a show in a very, very big space which is not actually a threatre venue.”

Alpha was created by a team of South African and international artists. For the development of this piece, they worked with high school students from across South Africa.

Now, professional performers will bring these students’ questions, thoughts and dreams to life.

An actress E Lee says: “It’s really nice having to work with different types of people. It’s diversity.”

Another actress, Jane Mpholo says: “We learn a lot every day. and it’s such a different production from everything I’ve ever done. We involve multimedia, the visuals are out of this world. The script itself.”

Actress Saree Van Coppenhagen says: “We don’t just stick to English, we have Sesotho, we have Afrikaans, we have Mandarin, we also have different styles of making theatre, we have comedy, we have drama, and we have different genres.”

The idea of ‘Alpha’ as a new start is being generated by the upcoming generation, who most believe are being influenced by an increasingly globalised and technology-dependent world.