As wild flowers bloom in and around the west coast town of Darling
, organisers of the Voorkamerfest are busy preparing for the town’s unique annual performing arts event to take place over the first weekend of spring.
The Voorkamerfest, now in its ninth year, sees 21 original performances staged in residents’ homes – whether or not they have a ‘voorkamer’ (drawing room) – but being invited into residents’ homes to see a world-class show is not the only unique aspect of this festival.
The entire event is designed around the element of surprise as ticket holders do not know what shows they are going to see. Even the homeowners who volunteer their sitting rooms as a venue don’t know which artist they are to host for the weekend until a few hours before the first performance.
Rather than buying tickets to see specific shows, promoting a spirit of serendipity sees festinos buying a ticket for a performance route. A maximum of 26 people are accommodated on one of seven routes and are picked up by a local taxi that transports them to a series of three different shows in three different homes before returning them to renowned satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys’s theatre Evita se Perron at the old Darling train station which forms the festival hub.
The small town becomes a hive of activity as local taxi owners buzz festinos from show to show on their set routes between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon as diverse acts by nationally, and often internationally, recognised artists are performed.
Shows range from mime to cabaret and comedy to drama, with artists this year including comedian Anne Hirsch, musician Koos Kombuis and award-winning young director Tara Notcutt in a rare solo performance. Coming all the way from The Netherlands are musician Anne van Veen and dramatists from the Matzer theatre company, all performing in the intimacy of people’s homes.
While the festival integrates communities across the town divided by apartheid spatial planning and creates short term job opportunities, R5 of every ticket sold is donated to the Darling Trust which works toward education and upliftment in the local communities. www.thedarlingtrust.org
The festive, child-friendly atmosphere of the Voorkamerfest weekend is enhanced by outside entertainment and arts, crafts and food stalls at Evita se Perron, where each route departs and ends. A Spring Parade on the Saturday starting 10am in the Main rd and jaw-dropping hip-hop dancing also adds to a general air of celebration and festivity. The town also has a number of restaurants and coffee shops that will be open for the duration of the festival.
Need to know
Dates: August 31 to September 2
Times: Performance routes scheduled for 6pm on Friday, 12pm and 5pm on the Saturday and 12pm on the Sunday.
Ticketing: R195 per person for the Friday evening route and R225 per person for all other routes.
Additionally, a free concert will be staged on Sunday 2 September at 3pm when the participating artists come together for a final bow and highlights package, enabling the festival visitors and Darling locals come together to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Bookings essential: 082 321 7542 / [[firstname.lastname@example.org]]
More info: www.voorkamerfest-darling.co.za
Stay in Darling
Book your West Coast accommodation at Darling Lodge for the weekend of the Voorkamerfest 2012.
This beautifully restored Victorian bed and breakfast offers great hospitality and comfortable bedrooms with a harmonious blend of old and new in an environment of vineyards, dairy pastures, wheat fields and spectacular wild flower displays.