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My Body My space Public Arts Festival celebrates five years

The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) and Ebhudlweni Arts Centre present the My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival (MBMS), cutting-edge dance, performance and installations that will unfold in public spaces throughout the Emakhazeni Municipality in rural Mpumalanga from April 23-28.

Anchored around Freedom Day, on April 27, MBMS 2019 is a creative platform that will celebrate and interrogate the notion of “Freedom”, through dance performances, theatre, music, land-art, workshops and visual arts and crafts. This year’s festival, which is funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa, marks and celebrates 25 years of South Africa’s democracy.

The My Body My Space festival has grown considerably in popularity since its inception in 2015. Don’t let the fact it is set against a rural backdrop fool you. MBMS is a hugely anticipated event attracting award-winning national and international artists and organisations, plus a large and diverse audience from around South Africa and the globe. Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Switzerland are some of the countries represented by MBMS artists this year.

Commenting on this year’s festival, FATC founder and festival director PJ Sabbagha said, “In 2019 The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative @ Ebhudlweni Arts Centre celebrates the 5th iteration of its ground-breaking and truly innovative Public Arts Festival, My Body My Space. Each year for us the festival is a truly magical moment when we gather many extraordinary local, national and international creative voices together to unleash their inspired and thought-provoking creations on the forgotten muddy/dusty potholed streets of Emakhazeni.”

Sabbagha said that the festival is a moment of profound connection, dialogue and interrogation in unexpected places that leaves a tangible trace in the hearts and minds all those who attend.

“Our 2019 programme is essentially and intentionally curated with a focus on Freedom Day, around which the festival unfolds. As we celebrate 25 years of Democracy in 2019, the festival presents an ideal opportunity to begin to ask questions and to probe what the lived reality of freedom means in 2019. Artists have responded to the questions: ‘What does freedom mean to you?’ and ‘What are the inhibitors to your freedom?’

“The festival will be a moment through which the community of artists and audience witness, share, negotiate, bump into, trip over and viscerally encounter each other and each other’s FREEDOM.”

In a statement Millys of Machado, which is partnering with The Forgotten Angle for the festival, said, “Millys is excited to be partnering with The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative once more on the My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival, as this year it takes place at the same time as our Autumn Festival. This provides the opportunity to really deepen our partnership.”

It continued: “Not only are we combining the opening programme of both festivals, on Friday 26th April, to bring a really exciting mix of dance, poetry, food and music together for our respective audiences, but we’re also bringing these two audiences together in a shared experience.”

The festival is made up of three programmes: The Arteries Programme, the Central Nervous System Programme (CNS) and a workshop and training programme. The Arteries programme is the Fringe programme in the shape of community activations in Machadodorp/Emthonjeni, Belfast/Siyathuthuka, Dullstroon/Sakhelwe and Waterval-Boven/Emgwenya. It will take place from April 23-26 and features performances and workshops for children and youths presented by Wits University’s Drama For Life. It also includes collaborations between MBMS artists and local artists.

The Central Nervous System programme takes place in Machadodorp and its surrounds from April 26-28, and is made up of a selection of commissioned performances. The audience is guided through performances, installations and exhibitions held in various public sites such as on street corners, tourist attractions sites, rural farms and abandoned buildings. Entrance to all events is free of charge.

The workshop and training programme includes skills exchange workshops, arts processes and mini-training programmes offered by visiting artists, facilitators and technicians.  This component of the festival is focused on youth, children, women and people with disabilities.

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