Financial concerns will mean that Rivonia Trial will not premier at this year’s Festival. Festival CEO Tony Lankester said the production was expensive and, although the Festival Committee and the South African State Theatre had applied to the Department of Arts and Culture for funding, it only came through two weeks ago.
Cancelling the show at this late stage was a “mutual decision”, explained Ismail Mahomed, the director of the Festival.
“We felt that more would be needed to put on such a vast and important production. We agreed that it just wouldn’t do it justice.”
Pulling out of the Festival is a last resort – especially as a lot of time and effort is spent bringing productions to the stage.
The process begins with a call for proposals towards the end of July for the following year’s Festival. Artists submit their ideas to the Festival committee to sift through.
The committee, taking various criteria into consideration, builds a “balanced” programme.
Then the budgets of the chosen productions are considered and then, finally, the contracts are signed. At any stage, things can go wrong – as is evident when shows are cancelled. The whole process can take up to the end of January.
Mlu Zondi, this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Dance, said artists struggle financially to stage productions.
“However, I feel lucky because I have been funded by Standard Bank and the Festival Committee, so I don’t have too much to worry about.”
Lara Bye, the director of London Road and I, Claudia, says she feels lucky as both her shows are up and running. This means all costs, such as those for sets and costumes, photo shoots and phone calls, have already been covered during their first runs.
“It’s really heavy. You shouldn’t really only rely on the Festival. It’s wise to have other runs lined up elsewhere,” she said.
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