In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, busking refers to artists who perform in public spaces. You know, the guy showing off mad guitar skills and totally nailing Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”, causing you to stop and pop a R5 coin into his open guitar case, or the copper man who stands so still you think he’s a statue until a clink in his tin makes him shift into a new pose.
By now the V&A Waterfront has become known for the variety of performers filling every other corner, enchanting audiences with juggling, acrobatics, opera and African beats, with the sounds of one performance blending into the next as you stroll through the alleyways.
Now the National Arts Festival, Cape Town Fringe and the V&A Waterfront have teamed up to make things official, bringing you four days of the best buskers. From 6 – 9 October you’ll be able to catch street performers, circus acts, buskers, musicians, artists, clowns, mimes and other entertainers, who’ll be taking over the popular tourist hub of the Mother City.
The Buskers Festival forms part of Cape Town Fringe, which since 2014 has been promoting the performing arts, across dance, music and comedy. This new venture will add Street Theatre to the mix.
“In many respects busking is the original crowd-funding,” says Cape Town Buskers Festival CEO Tony Lankester, “it’s also one of the oldest forms of theatre but in South Africa, it’s not always accorded the same respect as other performance arts. We have brought out some international acts to add variety to the programme but our local street performers certainly dominate and will hold their own with the crowds.”
“We have brought out some international acts to add variety to the programme but our local street performers certainly dominate and will hold their own with the crowds.”
The inaugural Festival’s line-up includes Canada’s Dynamike, described as a loveable chap who can juggle chainsaws and children – although not at the same time. From Argentina comes Diego, a Chaplin impersonator while the infectious sounds of Dr Bucketman (Spain) will have audiences rethinking their Tupperware collection.
South African artists include Bravo, who blends comedy, juggling and acrobatics, Anecdote, a 5 part acapella group, hip-hop dance group, The Shifterz and V&A Waterfront regular Ikamva Marimba. Audiences will be baffled by the talents of Levitating Man and the Soccer Freestylers will be showing off their ball skills.
Direct from the Cape Town Fringe comes rising star Nombasa, and the full-on sounds of the Nomadic Orchestra. Nylon will also perform their show Public Displays of Affection which explores our gestures and body language in public spaces. The total programme sees 22 acts performing over the four days.
Personally I’m really excited about this! It is great entertainment us plebs, adds an incredible atmosphere to a space, and the artists get great exposure. When we were travelling in Italy, watching the buskers in the piazzas was a high point of our days. I think it is brilliant that more is being done to promote this culture.
The Buskers’ Festival will also be hosting a workshop for buskers by Stuart Every, owner of Dolphin Creative, who represents buskers and busking festivals internationally. The workshop is intended to assist street performers in honing their craft, developing new audience skills and networking with other performers.