The 2019 Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival, from 27 July to 16 August 2019, features stage productions, workshops, films, exhibitions, discussions and talks that focus on issues relating to (but not exclusive to) women. Men, especially younger men, can benefit greatly by attending, contributing to and learning from the inspiring programme.

This 13th incarnation of the event especially recognises 9 August, the historic day in 1956 when more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the pass laws and inhumane Apartheid legislation.

“I cannot be prouder of this year’s all-encompassing programme. The 2019 Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival is a dedication to all women – young and old, ordinary and extraordinary – who played (and continue to play) a role in the struggle for equality and liberty,” says Artscape’s CEO, Marlene le Roux. “We must constantly create paths and guide younger women and girls to become role models and icons in all areas. This is a festival not ONLY for women, but for EVERYBODY because Artscape encourages men and boys to attend, to listen, learn and contribute as true empowerment is about dignity and respect. The Festival also embraces and celebrates LGBTIQ+ rights as well as people living with disabilities – issues that will always be close to my heart,” she concludes.

Highlights of the 2019 Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival

It all starts with a bang on 27 July in the theatre. With feathers preened, eyelashes fluttering and sequins glittering, the fiercely feminine/masculine are gathering to celebrate the world of ‘lip sync’, the hugely popular Absolutely Fabulously Drag show which again takes centre stage for the third year running. The highly celebrated Jazzart Dance Theatre team provides the choreography and the dancers for this event. Camillo Lombard is in the musical director’s chair while Basil Appollis stitches it all together as the director. Tickets cost R150.

Top class theatre

This year’s flagship stage production sees inimitable theatre icon, Sandra Prinsloo in Kamphoer. The play is based on the true story of Susan Nell, who, during the Anglo-Boer War (1899 to 1902) was raped and left for dead. In later years her path crosses with that of her rapist and Kamphoer is what transpires. 2019 marks the 120th commemorative year of the Anglo-Boer War and this stage production is an adaptation of Francois Smit’s award-winning novel of the same name. It has already won the Jan Rabie Rapport Award, an ATKV Award, and was on the shortlist for the 2018 Sunday Times Literary Awards. Kamphoer, directed by the award-winning Lara Foot runs in the Artscape Theatre from 6 to 9 August. Tickets cost R120.

Sandra Prinsloo in Kamphoer

Another iconic woman on fire, Siphokazi Jonas, directs The Widow, a unique South African story of four women. The adaptation of Dr Nomfundo Mali’s support group reports, The Widow is a series of monologues representing a platform to investigate how widows cope after the loss of their spouses. The monologues aim to create dialogue towards healing and recognising the pain that comes with loss. The Widow runs in the Arena from 7 to 10 August. Tickets cost R80.

Activities, exhibitions and workshops

The Artscape Theatre Complex will be buzzing with activities on actual Women’s Day, 9 August with free interactive entertainment on the piazza and free panel discussions and talks on various issues affecting women in a modern-day South Africa.

Most prominent features include the Black, White, Red & Yellow Art Exhibition comprising a colourful exploration of the life and times of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as well as health screenings pertinent to women. Another highlight of the day is top-selling author, Milanie Vosloo’s inspirational talk will focus on how women can increase their self-esteem through the belief in God – a topic throughout several of her books. And, Artscape’s Resource Centre will be offering Arts Sector Entrepreneurship Workshops daily from 8.30am to 4pm from 12 to 16 August.