French - South African collaborations at the 2017 National Arts Festival

Over the past 21 years, the National Arts Festival, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the Alliance Française network have contributed to build the powerful cultural connections between France and South Africa. Since 1996, over forty productions across all genres have been presented at the Festival, highlighting the best of France.


Once again, this year’s edition of the Festival (29 June-9 July), will be a festive occasion to reinforce this dynamic and inspiring partnership with three highlights:

  • The acclaimed theatre director Sylvaine Strike will present Molière’s masterpiece Tartuffe which has not aged since 1664 thanks to this brilliant production that is touring the whole country from April to July 2017!
  • In The Alchemy of Words audiences are invited to a multi visual performance through the works of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud in a poetic experience combining animation, puppetry and music.
  • Come admire the musical heritage of South Africa in the exhibition September Jive which presents 150 of the most interesting, important and beautiful sleeve covers of South African vinyl records.

For more information on the National Arts Festival, click here.



Sylvaine Strike directs the hilarious and poignant Tartuffe, presented by the Fortune Cookie Theatre Company, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the Alliance Française in South Africa, with the support of Total South Africa, BNP Paribas/RCS (a BNP Paribas group company) and Mazars.

As relevant today as when it was written, Tartuffe is the most famous work of iconic French playwright Molière. Three hundred years after it was written, this brilliant comic tale of human gullibility resonates across time and cultures in the way it exposes power, false piety, hypocrisy and greed.

Tartuffe’s website




This multi-media performance about the life and work of French poet Arthur Rimbaud combines live animation, music and puppetry.

From 2008 to 2011, Naomi van Niekerk (Sand-animations / Puppeteer, RSA), Yoann Pencolé (Puppeteer, FR) and Arnaud van Vliet (Musician, RSA) studied Puppetry together at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville - Mézières, the birth town of poet Arthur Rimbaud. Today, five years since the completion of their Puppetry Diplomas, they come together to collaborate on the creation of a new performance piece. Combining their skills and shared experience in Charleville, they present a multi-disciplinary work for an all-ages audience.

I am now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I am working at turning myself into a seer... The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering but one must be strong and be born a poet... – Arthur Rimbaud, 1871.

Arthur Rimbaud (1854 -1894) the ‘enfant terrible’ of French poetry published his first immortal poem at the age of 16 only to completely abandon writing poetry at the age of 21. During this short period he managed to create a body of work that has had a profound impact on the poetry of his own time and on that of the 20th Century. André Breton, Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Jim Morrison are some of the artists and musicians that have been influenced by his writing.
Who is this literary pioneer and creative genius who continues to receive letters from fans all over the world even 123 years after his death?

In The Alchemy of Words, three artists - a puppeteer, a filmmaker and a musician search to capture the enigma of Arthur Rimbaud and what it means to be a pioneer.

Expect an immersive experience that combines sand animation, puppetry and live music inspired by the diverse imagery from his poems – smoke filled battlefields, the lush countryside of the French Ardennes, colourful vowels, grey cityscapes, crimson seas…



SA musical graphics - classics and collectables presents 150 of the most interesting, important and beautiful sleeve covers, with a special focus on truly South African designs, which could have emanated only from this country. The selection was made by a group consisting of collectors and designers (Siemon Allen, Rob Allingham, Caroline Hillary, Molemo Moiloa).

My favourite sounds - Music and media personalities speak out about their favourite tracks and albums, consist of 50 photo portraits of music and media personalities including Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Johnny Clegg, Brenda Sisane... accompanied by short interviews about their favourite South African music and explaining why they chose it. This exhibition is the work of photographer Kapula.

In partnership with Alliance Française in South Africa and SAMRO Foundation.


Press release from the French Institute in South Africa, the National Arts Festival and the Alliance Française network

publie le 04/05/2017

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