A facebook post of note by AFDA lecturer Rob Murray after students entertain at NAF 2019

News, 03 July 2019

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Bear with me, because there are many people to thank. So, PHITLHO and MISSADVENTURES OF THE FENDERBENDERS have come to the end of their National Arts Festival Makhanda run. It has been, simply, amazing. Did we disturb box office records? No – but we had audiences. Every time. Were the shows perfect and win awards for their innovation and professionalism? No – but they entertained and/or moved people. ALSO – they both appear to have a life beyond NAF, with some interesting offers and ideas rolling in. Furthermore, they have announced that something is happening at AFDA JHB, and that students are making bold, adventurous choices, and that Live Performance is on the rise. So, did the experience grow the students (educators – always looking for a “learning moment”, sigh)? YES! I have posted about this before, but wow – I have been blown away by their openness and willingness to embrace the festival, to bond as teams, and have each others backs in a way that is humbling and fills an old theatre guy with hope for the future. 

This did not happen in a vacuum, so roll credits: Shala Riet for endless support and fighting the naysayers - you are our champion; Sandra Steyn for taking on the burden of marking to allow me to do what needed doing, as well as boundless support for the students; Henriette De Villiers for believing so fervently in what we are doing in PostGrad and fighting for us in all possible ways; Mam Daisy Dube for being her amazing self and playing an incredible game of chess in terms of logistics and venue rollercoaster; Liezl De Kock for being the BEST Stage/Personnel Manager one could ask for (and those who know me know I don’t relinquish that role easily) and helping the cast achieve greatness; André Dellow and Matthew Lotter for assistance and fabulousness at NAF - *mouthsnap*; David Dennis and Morné Abrahams for working closely with me to build bridges between UnderGrad and PostGrad; Anneke Jansen for endless support and enthusiasm, and *tons* of dramaturgical input; Nuala Jansen for her incredible presence and enthusiasm at NAF; Earle Holmes for being so always supportive and getting behind the idea of joint marketing and flinging us out into the world; Mark Wilby for seeing the potential of joint marketing and helping to make it happen; Danie (yes, even OPS gets a mention) for letting us use the Caddy to transport set and stuff; all the incredible people in Finance who patiently kept us moving forward and made sure we stayed in the black; Kate, Zee, Tony, Nobesuthu, Nikki, Guy, Ryan, Mpho, Abby, Rachel, and all the magic-makers at NAF – you are the true heroes and your festival ROCKS!; Cheese, Joyce, Luke, Murray, Vettoria, and all the stage hands – thanks for putting up with us and making us look and feel awesome (Glennie for best venue…anyone? Anyone?); Nyane, Ofentse, Thabz, Seladi, Kokey, Kwena, Jaco, Sebenzile, Hlobile, Juan, and Justin – thank you for rising to the challenge placed before you…may your experiences live for ever and help carve out your destinies; and last, but certainly not least, to all audiences, peers, colleagues, critics’ panels, family, and friends – you know who you are and what you have given us…big love and respect xx

Some stray observations:

Best audience for PHITLHO was the opening show: for some reason, a large group of middle-aged black women chose us as a show to watch – they laughed, gasped, shrieked, gave advice to the characters, and cried pure tears of happiness and sadness through it all. What an absolute honour to have been part of that.

We got a LOT of audience feedback and constructive criticism for both shows – amazing! Among my favourites for PHITLHO were: “You have fed my soul, thank you” from an old friend and ex-colleague. “Can I bring my learners on the final show?” was another one. And then, from writers and fine artists alike, this: “The show made me want to CREATE again; it affirmed the positivity of making shit happen!”

Far and away my best response was from a Mexican guy at fest. He made a point of coming to speak to me and he had 2 things to say (I won’t try the accent here): “1 – thank you for a show about LOVE. Love between a man and a woman. Between a mother and child. Between a family. We need more of this in the dark times we are going through. I am from Mexico, and we are going through a very very dark time. We need more art like this, where love actually wins. 2 – where can I get a copy of the soundtrack? I want to remember this show for a long time.”

I’m NOT crying. I just have something in my eye.

To all still at fest, knock ‘em dead. D E D Dead. Y’all know what matters. Respect 



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