Platteland Preview

At the heart of this annual fest you’ll find artists taking their productions to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. We invite them to showcase their work here en route as a final rehearsal and the Platteland Preview is the result: a feast of drama, music, comedy, dance, poetry and visual art. Welcome!

Platteland Preview Experiences

by Barbara von Ahlefeldt ~ Rarely these days, given the economic situation, expensive long distance travel and the ever-rising cost of living, are we able to feel free to enjoy the privilege of theatre going. Here in Smithfield, however, we are afforded the exhilarating experiences each year at the end of June when we stage our very own Platteland Preview - plays being rehearsed for the famous Grahamstown Festival in July. In the 1960's when we lived in London we would take day-trips by rail to the Chichester Festival to enjoy experimental theatre with upcoming or famous actors. There,...Read more

Last But Not Least

by Kitty Schneider ~ Everyone else had left town or gone back to their work, but on Monday 29 June, after the end of the Platteland Preview festival, the cast and crew of the play “Once Upon A Fire” still had some important work in Smithfield. They put on a free performance of their show for the local children followed by a workshop. Many children were terrified as the play started, one child trying to jump over the seats to get to the back, and some even ran away out of the building! But those who stayed were treated to a really fun morning, especially once the workshop got going...Read more

Record ticket sales for festival

Despite the unexpected and unseasonal (though always welcome) rain, Smithfield's Platteland Preview arts festival drew record audiences again this year. Here are the statistics: In 2013 we sold 250 tickets of which 50 were sponsored. In 2014 we sold 600 tickets of which 100 were sponsored. This year, 2015, we sold 900 tickets of which 300 were sponsored. That's 300 children who had never seen theatre before, getting to enjoy a show for the first time. Some of them had the extra fun of being able to see for themselves what goes into making a show. We thank all our sponsors, once again...Read more

Children, enthralled, see theatre for the first time

The kids wriggled in their seats with delight: this was what they had all been looking forward to! Seated in the quadrangle of the Mofulatshepe primary school, hundreds of children watched a production of Die Ashoop Prinsessie on Friday morning, shouting answers to the actors, singing and dancing with pleasure. The play was about junk that had been thrown on the town scrap heap - but it was also about accepting differences and embracing them. It is one of several performances specially aimed at children, forming part of this year's programme. The Platteland Preview has a strong outreach...Read more

There's dancing in the streets ...

When the festival's free outdoor concert with MangaRimba kicked off this morning outside the DRC church hall, people quickly signed up to dance as well as listen. MangaRimba was a huge hit last year and it seems set to win just as many hearts this year, judging from the whistles, feet stomping and dancing in Smithfield's main street. You can see the band tonight again, as they will play a set before the festival's official opening show, We didn't come to hell for the croissants. Miss MangaRimba, and you miss a chance to keep warm and smile!...Read more

Art exhibition opener kicks off festival weekend

Getting started early, Fresh Paint gallery kicked off the weekend's events on Thursday evening with its opening of a special exhibition of work by Koos Bronkhorst and Willem Pretorius. The gallery also displayed paintings by local artists Lynden Lund and Mbali Mfundo and photographs by gallery owner Greg May, who had his camera much in evidence during the opening. Seen here, festival director Irene Swanepoel with Neil Jardine who was taking a break from keeping kids in order. But you'll see him in a completely different light on Friday at 16:00 in Bell's Chapel when he stars in...Read more

'Quirky', 'mystical' shows bring this fest goer

What makes a South African academic with an international reputation - and a problem with the cold - persuade three of his buddies to pack up their warmest gear and schlepp all the way from Gauteng to Smithfield with him for the Platteland Preview? As you read this, Pierre Brouard, who heads the Centre for the Study of Aids at the University of Pretoria, and has an international reputation for his work on HIV-Aids, will be driving down to Smithfield with three friends for the weekend. Pierre is a long time friend of the festival and earlier this year he also grabbed the chance to help the...Read more

Best wishes for the festival from long-time backer, Martin Plaut

When the Platteland Preview was struggling to get off the ground, British journalist and writer, Martin Plaut came to the rescue: with a generous donation he helped the festival organisers pay for a performance that was specially staged for local school children. He was also one of many backers who contributed to the festival's Thundafund efforts earlier this year, to raise funds to stage the 2015 Platteland Preview. Not many Smithfield people may know this, but Martin also wrote about our festival in one of his popular, internationally-read blogs. Writing about South Africa in September...Read more


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