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Unmute Artsability Festival 2020

The ArtsAbility Festival, presented annually by UNMUTE Dance Company, is Africa’s premier inclusive arts festival.  In its sixth year, ArtsAbility 2020 continues to present an exciting, innovative space for both disabled and able-bodied artists and performers, offering a plethora of performances, webinars and creative works. This year the festival moves online to present a FREE virtual experience commencing on 3 November until 3 December 2020. It pays tribute to International Month of Persons living with Disabilities.  Under the overarching theme, Spaces & Homes Invasion Festival of Transmission (SHIFT) ONLINE it has taken advantage of the constraints of the Corona Virus Pandemic, by using the virtual space to increase the usually six-day event to a month-long online feast of inclusive talent and creative genius.  ArtsAbility 2020 has opened its doors to not only local South African creators, but also Africa and the World.

In order to create clarity for the viewers, ArtsAbility 2020 has been further divided into daily sub themes. However, each day will offer a different performance or learning opportunity, with some performances only living online for 24 hours.

A series a of lectures and workshops will be taking place over the course the programme. These will be available on the festival website:

To book to view any of the events,  send an email to



As part of the Unmute ArtsAbility Festival hosted live by Unmute Dance Company from Artscape Theatre Cape Town, South Africa.  Over the course of 4 weeks we will be focussing on different challenges, strategies and thinking paradigms within the world of inclusive dance and performance.

Every Monday we will be having live streamed discussions with a panel of artists from all over the world doing inclusive work. The main theme of the webinars will be based on inclusivity, access and how inclusive arts are made more sustainable and how donors can assist this sector.



Performances by South African based artists who are working in the field of inclusive arts.


The world premiere of the Four Letter Word by Flatfoot Dance Company

Made entirely under the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa with dancers separated from one another, and (in most parts) shot off mobile phones, “FOUR LETTER WORDS” has been made as a way to keep our connection (with each other as dancers) alive while our embodied dance work has come to a halt. Lliane Loots wanted to make a dance film that somehow connected the dancers again and remembered 4 years of working together; of spaces of hard work, training and infinite hope. Collaborating with slam poet/artist Iain ewok Robinson, who took Loots’s first ‘four letter word’ (HOPE) and wrote a whole poem made only of four letter words – this became the soundtrack of the film and the impulse for editing and the visual choreography. Sensitively edited by Wesley Maherry, this short dance film is a brief inhalation and exhalation … The images of the balloon (carried, held, swatted away, and danced with … ) speaks to the incredible strength and fragility of all of us at this time, and to as sense of absence.



Performance outcomes of Artists in Residence programme with inclusive artists from Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Congolese/South African artists.


Deus Nos Acudi by Pak

In Africa and in the world, magic is seen as a way to achieve powers with rituals of certain sects or, simply by repeating patterns of behavior. Tradition, whether through orality, symbols, manuscripts, sacred objects and even body movements, evokes the ancestry of an entire society. In the contemporary world for the globalized individual, racial difference is ambivalent, since it confers power but also marginalizes. Moments when everything is black, and we do not see with our eyes, we feel life in a deep dream of anguish and pain, bringing in all this experience, even the unconscious. Fiction is placed in a real way in spaces in the imagination of the incarnation: The strong image and the physicality of the body in motion, generate different moments of doubt, choice and opinions.



Inclusive dance companies and artists from the USA, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Cambodia will be showcased.  These will only be live on the festival’s YouTube channel for 24 hours.


USA – Radical Impact by Axis Dance Company

Radical Impact, choreographed by AXIS Artistic Director Marc Brew, was created in collaboration with Composer/Pianist JooWan Kim, Artistic Director of Hip-Hop Orchestra Ensemble Mik Nawooj. Working together for the first time, Marc and Joowan explore what it means to be human through music and movement, investigating themes around politics and identity. The work draws on each dancer’s unique experiences and how their stories can be told through the medium of dance.

Europe – Landscape by BewegGrund

«Landscapes» was planned as a live performance with 20 dancers.

The work was guided by the following questions: What landscapes do we see in music and how do we translate them into movement? How do we relate the ephemeral movement that is created in the moment to a given notation? The music is interpreted by Dina Kehl on the viola da gamba, whereby her instrument, like the dancers’ instrument (her/his own body), also embodies body, sound and landscape.



Residencies for ten young South Africans from various provinces worked with 4 mentors (Andile Vellem, Babalwa Makwetu, Calvin Ratladi and Mpotseng Shuping) on how to create and produce inclusive dance pieces.



A series of documentaries, films, exhibitions and a book launch.



A showcase for professional artists who have been working over the last five years in different genres such as film, visual art and creative writing, these pieces will also be interspersed throughout the week.


The second week is dedicated to the works of well-known, award winning filmmaker, Shelley Barry. ONLINE FILM FESTIVAL | Shelley Barry Retrospective


ArtsAbility 2020 is made possible by the National Arts Council of South Africa, in partnership with Artscape, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Survé Philanthropies.


For more information follow the Unmute Dance Company on:






3 November, 2020 / 8:00 am
3 December, 2020 / 5:00 pm
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Underground Parking

The underground municipal car park linked to Artscape is open for public parking from 17:00 on weekdays and an hour before the starting time of shows on weekends. It closes at 24:00. The parking fee is R24.00 and R15.00 for pensioners.

Wheelchair Access

Limited facilities for wheelchairs areavailable in the Opera House and Theatre in accordance with safety regulations. Wheelchair seats can be booked at the Artscape Box Office, at any Computicket outlet, or through the Computicket call centre. Please note that the Arena is not wheelchair friendly. Toilets for wheelchair-bound patrons aresituated in the Marble and Chandelier Foyers of the Opera House and on the lower level of the Theatre Foyer. Limited parking bays are available for bona fide Disabled Parking Disc Holders in the tunnel area opposite the Stage Door entrance, and in the staff parking area. A drop-off facility is available in the tunnel area for patrons who have difficulty walking. Prior arrangements in all regards should be made with the Theatre Manager.


Disable Parking and Wheelchairs are available on site but should be pre-booked by contacting Artscape Dial-a-seat on 021 421 7695