The saying goes: every dark cloud has a silver lining. So, too, a positive spin needed to be found within the level three lockdown regulations of what Artscape was able to offer the theatrical world in these uncertain times. Artscape’s venues might seem a lot quieter during the lockdown period but movement within – under strict regulations – is very much alive and kicking.

The National Arts Festival, just a few weeks away from its first ever virtual format, is busy preparing and shooting productions at Artscape. These productions, with some of the biggest names in the theatre world, will be streamed during the festival from June 25 to July 5.

Add to that South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC), the prestigious event that was scheduled to take place in the Artscape Opera House from July 13 to 18, has also taken a leap into the online space and will now be held virtually. Aside from the SAIBC Online being a global first, the event will now have a far broader reach as dancers, teachers and ballet fans from every corner of the globe connect via the web.

It is uncertain which lockdown level will be applicable by July and August and, even if bigger gatherings are allowed, social distancing will likely be the advised safety protocol for the foreseeable future. Says Founder and CEO of SAIBC, Dirk Badenhorst: “Doing the SAIBC at the theatre is not an option since the safety of our team, participants, audiences and Artscape staff is of critical importance. Yet at the same time we don’t want to lose this highly anticipated event that dancers have been working towards and that audiences have been looking forward to since the last competition in 2018. The pandemic has dealt us a blow but, at the same time, it has enabled us to innovate, pivot and welcome new opportunities – it’s incredibly exciting!”

Artscape CEO, Marlene le Roux says: “The Arts makes us all human. Our souls connect with our bodies and with others when we experience live performance together. The Arts plays a significant part in emotional, spiritual and physical renewal during this pandemic and after these trying times have finally passed.”

More exciting news is that Artscape has partnered with various radio stations – both community and commercial – to present its popular New Voices Programme as radio dramas, in three official languages. This will be rolled out over a two-month period from June/July into August. The first drama (in co-operation with the Suidoosterfees, NaTi and the Jakes Gerwel Trust) is being recorded next week, and will be ready for broadcast at the end of June.

The school set works – also in three official languages have been transformed into question-and-answer sessions and these are also being recorded currently. The sessions explores the themes of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, presented by Abrahamse & Meyer Productions made possible by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), is already available on Artscape’s YouTube channel. And let us not forget the children – since Artscape has been synonymous with developing young theatre goers and their minds – the popular Vlooi/Kipper children’s theatre production is being recorded for radio broadcast. From Monday 29 June to Friday 03 July Vlooi en die Sneeuman will be on air at 10:30 on Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), thus accessible nationally, while the announcement of its broadcast dates on Fine Music Radio (FMR) will be announced soon.