Upcoming Jozi events; Sat 27th May looks to be a busy day!

Being “plugged in”

While chatting with a friend about some good theatre we had both seen recently, (in this case Master Class with the extraordinary Sandra Prinsloo), he bemoaned the fact that so many people missed this outstanding performance. He said it’s a case of not being ‘plugged in’. The hangover from the Covid Lockdowns, with cocooning and hunkering down, plus the resulting reliance on streaming services like Netflix, Britbox, Amazon and Apple, seems to have led to a reduction in the renowned Jozi energy, engagement and getting “out-there”. It seems too, that many no longer check emails regularly, and so notifications about events and happenings get drowned in the overflowing inbox …. Only to end up being deleted long past the closing date.  So here are some alerts as to exciting things happening in Joburg over the next month. 

Kentridge’s The Head and the Load 21st April to 6th May 

Of course, the big buzz in town is the long-awaited opening tonight of William Kentridge’s new opera The Head and the Load at the Nelson Mandela. There are still tickets available so make sure not to miss it. But do a bit of background reading first! 

The Head and the Load: Kentridge in collaboration with musical directors Philip Miller Thuthuka Sibisi and choreographer Gregory Maqoma runs until 6th May at the Nelson Mandela Theatre

Caroline Suzman’s exhibition at Wits Art Museum (WAM) until 13th May 

Caroline Suzman will be giving a walkabout of her exhibition I declare I am here at 12 pm tomorrow Saturday 22nd April.  This exhibition offers a feast for Joburg City explorers and street photographers.  From WAM’s flyer for this walkabout: 

Photographed from 2018 – 2020 often on public holidays, the images that make up this exhibition record interactions between the photographer, the inhabitants and the city environment. Street art and gritty urban palimpsests are the backdrop against which the people of the city declare themselves, their stances and their clothing choices, echoing patterns in the urban fabric.

Ellen Bernie, an attendant at the Workers’ Museum Johannesburg 27th April 2018 Freedom Day, Caroline Suzman

The Hobbit at the National Children’s Theatre 21st April until 21st May 

The Hobbit is a classic for older children so it’s with much excitement I will take my grandsons to the production at the National Children’s Theatre. (I think I must take my somewhat dog-eared dusty copy down from a very high book-shelf for a re-read). NCT productions are always excellent – not Disney-style commercialized cartoon characterization, but thought-provoking, subtle and clever.  And with Alan Swerdlow as director, we know we’re assured of an outstanding production.  This play is ideal for older kids (8+) to experience adventures and solve problems with Bilbo Baggins, played by Game Bovana, twice a Naledi winner for best actor in NCT productions. Book tickets on Quicket.

Rehearsing for The Hobbit 

Kamers Makers 26th April to 1st May 

Kamers Makers brands itself as: “SA’S original Artisan ‘Up’-Market”.  It started 20 years ago with 34 makers and 800 shoppers in a private home in Stellenbosch and has now grown into “the largest artisan pop-up market on the African continent”. I last went to a Kamers Market 4 years ago. It was a wonderful Joburg autumn day and a fabulous outing …. BUT an expensive one!  There are always such wonderful, handcrafted goodies which are irresistible, and you never knew you needed! The great thing though is that all products are proudly local and “every product you buy supports skills, creates jobs and enriches the communities who make them”.

St. Francis Music Festival 9-14th May 

The St Francis Music Festival takes place this year from 9 – 14 May at St Francis Anglican Church, 46 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview.  Performers include: 

  • the Chanticleer Singers (South Africa’s leading chamber choir) Tuesday 9th May 7.30 
  • the African Renaissance Ensemble, with a programme of Renaissance and Baroque vocal music Thursday 11th May 7.30pm
  • the Apple Green Orchestra who, with Jonathan Watkins, Ilze Van Staden and Tim Roberts, will perform the Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Friday 12th May 7.30 pm
  • Hanli Stapela in a Concert version of Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” Saturday 13th May 3pm 
  • Johannesburg Queer Chorus, a 70 strong community choir of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and their family and friends, present a programme of contemporary choral singing Saturday 13th may at 7.30 pm 
  • the Bach choir who will take part in the sung Eucharist at 8.30 on Sunday morning 
  • Jonathan Watkins and the Apple Green Orchestra perform vocal arrangements from composers Bach and Telemann Sunday 14th May 3pm 

Book tickets on Quicket

Photo courtesy African Renaissance Ensemble

Kingsmead Book Fair Saturday 27th May

This is one of my favourite annual events, a day packed with debate, discussion and dissection of all things literary, cultural, social and political. 

Registration for the day is R100 and sessions (R75 per session) start at 9.30. There are 5 time slots with multiple panel discussions in each session, so it’s really difficult to make decisions about which to attend.  There is something for everybody with panels on the future of South Africa; our unexplored histories; current contentious issues like land ownership, gender-based violence and political corruption; renowned authors discussing their craft; cooking tips and demonstrations; and much more besides.  And in addition to the adult programme there is a teen and young adult programme (for 13 years and older) as well as for children (talks aimed variously at the 4 -10 age groups.  Book tickets on Webtickets. And be warned the talks in the Lange Hall are sometimes sold out.  


RMB Latitudes Art Fair 26th -28th May  

Billed as a “destination event”, this curated experience of contemporary art from Africa is being held in the magnificent buildings and grounds of Shepstone Gardens. Shepstone Gardens is one of Johannesburg’s premiere wedding-venues for good reason. With its iconic 3 acre garden and whacky blend of architectural building styles, it will be a perfect venue to enjoy exciting art works, art talks and walkabouts, wine offerings from Franschhoek and delish food from James Diack (owner and chef at Il Contadino in Parktown North).  There is an amazing line-up of exhibitors who will be located in different spectacular art hubs: “from marble halls, to secret gardens and rooftop pavilions”.  There are more than 40 exhibiting galleries, studios and designers. Buy tickets from Latitudes.

RMB Latitudes Venue Shepstone Gardens 2023 Source Photograph Mail and Guardian

And a double whammy: Open Studios partners with Latitudes for this weekend of 27th and 28th May 

In an exciting development, Open Studios Joburg, (launched in 2022), has partnered with RMB Latitudes with an expanded line-up of studio collectives and artists’ work-spaces open for public visits. There will be shuttle services from Shepstone Gardens to the inner city. These shuttles will move in loops around the studios with a shuttle being available every 15/20 minutes.

Saturday 27 May from 10:30am to 4pm

Sunday 28 May from 10:30am to 4pm

So is a great chance to explore the inner city safely, visit a number of artists’ studios, meet with the makers, and get insights into their working processes. And a wonderful opportunity for first time collectors to purchase works without having to pay hefty gallery commissions. 

From The Hobbit to The Head and the Load, from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater to inner city art studios and from the Kingsmead halls and classrooms to the quirky Shepstone Gardens, there really is something for everybody over the next few weeks. 


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