Garden Route’s young theatre stars make history at Eden Drama Festival
The Eden Drama Festival came to an historic end on Saturday 22 February 2020, with four of the participating groups invited to perform at the Baxter Theatre’s annual Zabalaza Festival.
The festival is hosted by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) in partnership with the George Arts Society, the Zabalaza Festival, Kunste Onbeperk and the Suidoosterfees.
The participants are teams of young, amateur actors, directors and writers who create and perform original productions.
The festival, now in its ninth year, took place at the Oakhurst Insurance George Arts Theatre in George and attracted participants from all over the region. A total of 9 groups performed, coming from towns such as Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, George, Riversdale, Swellendam and Dysselsdorp.
“This has been one of the hardest adjudication processes in the nine years that I have been adjudicating at these finals,” said celebrity guest judge, Abduraghmaan Adams. “We couldn’t decide on a winner and this shows how successful the programme has become. Our rural groups are presenting us with productions that are of a very high standard.”
Adams, a SA Film and Television Award winner, was joined on the judging panel by Mdu Kweyama, curator for the Zabalaza Festival, and award winning writer and young director Khanya Viljoen.
Swellendam Performing Arts and New Directions from Plettenberg Bay were named Best Production and Best Production runners-up respectively, securing their places at the Zabalaza Festival and Suidoosterfees grand Finale.
Usually only two groups are invited to Zabalaza, but the productions in Eden were so exceptional that it resulted in another two groups being invited.
Joining the finalists as invited performers will be Fantasties Dramaties, who were named as Best Ensemble and third place runner up, and Evolution Drama Group from Riversdale with their production called Sarie.
Jane Moleleki, Director of Arts, Culture and Language, was full of praise towards the young talent that were presented on the day.
The other Eden Drama Festival award winners were:
- Best Ensemble: Fantasties Dramaties
- Best Supporting Actor: Chamigo Stander (Artistic Rural Talent)
- Best Supporting Actress: Jomelia Mekeur (Evolution Drama)
- Best Writer: Nicolin Esau (Most Wanted)
- Best Director: Freek Oerson (Swellendam Performing Arts)
- Best Actor: Ayden October (Swellendam Performing Arts)
- Best Actress: Micheala Whaites (New Directions)
The Eden Drama Festival was preceded by the Cape Winelands Drama Festival in Franschhoek on Saturday 15 February, where Our Hope and Franschhoek High School were named as the respective winners and runners-up to secure their places at Zabalaza.
The Cape Winelands and Eden winners and runners-up also qualified for the DCAS Grand Finale, which takes place at the Suidoosterfees at the Artscape Theatre from 27 April 2020.