IF you’re still on a high from Africa Express but worrying about the encroaching autumn, have no fear, the Afrovibes festival is here! Another project that links our little country with the much larger continent of Africa, Afrovibes promises a plethora of artists from both places, in a multi-arts celebration that embraces theatre, dance, music, and spoken word. Afrovibes arrives at Sherman Cymru for a five-day stint from Mon 15-Sat 20 Oct, and is at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Sat 13.
Amongst the multiplicity of events are Mother To Mother, an interweaving of text, music, and monologue that features leading South African actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones; Inception, a complex, textured dance solo that provides an intense physical and psychological journey into the psyche of a young female artist; and Thirst, a rich mix of dance, physical theatre, song, and traditional African storytelling. It depicts the fortunes and misfortunes of three water carriers from an African village that has run dry, and was awarded Best New South African Play in 2010.
The similarly successful And The Girls In Their Sunday Dresses, a hit at the 2009 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, features performances by two of South Africa’s most acclaimed female comedians. My Exile Is In My Head, a dance/physical theatre piece inspired by Wole Soyinka’s prison notes, offers an unusual mixture of angst, beauty, resignation, acrobatic moves and spirituality. Then there is the Sibikwa Arts African Indigenous Orchestra, who play traditional instruments such as the Uhadi (African bow instruments), horns, drums, marimba, mbira, and dinaka pipes. A celebration of the traditional and the new, their work travels from lulling subtleties of sound and movement to compelling township jazz and afrobeat.
The single spoken word event of the festival features Zena Edwards (UK), Mbali Vilakazi (South Africa) and Clara Opoku (Netherlands), in a piece that looks at myth, womanhood, and a multimedia examination of women’s anger in the 21st century.
In addition, debates and post-show talks offer an opportunity for learning, sharing, and meeting people. An eclectic and thought-provoking programme indeed, this is one festival that ought to brighten up the coming darkening days. MAB JONES
Afrovibes Festival, Mon 15-Sun 20 Oct, Sherman Cymru, Cardiff. Tickets: £12. Info: 029 2064 6900 / www.shermancymru.co.uk