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Gig guide: March on 2022

It seems surreal to be putting together a list of cool arts and culture events while Europe is entering a war, toggling between web pages with deets of what’s on stage and news sites showing Russian tanks invading the Ukraine. The worst case scenario, of course, is someone unleashes the nukes, then it’s ta ta world. But you can only stay stuck to breaking news for so long until you need to take a break and get into what’s happening around you, where’s there’s life, and laughter. Nothing brings on an appreciation for life like impending doom. And after all, it’s art that’ll make sense of it all, in the end.

Theatre Treats

Highly anticipated, The Life and Times of Michael K premiers in South Africa this month until the 19th of March. It has everything you want in a play: Multi-award-winning theatre legend Lara Foot as director, acclaimed jazz muso and composer Kyle Shepherd with an original score, the Handspring Puppet Company and a star cast including Sandra Prinsloo and Andrew Buckland. The play is based on J.M Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel, which follows Michael K as he journeys through civil-war-torn South Africa to take his mother back to her rural home. Finding himself unable to bear this anarchic world, his path unfolds to reveal his reason for living, through his connection with the earth and his purity of vision. It promises to be an epic viewing experience with a multi-layered stage of puppetry, stirring videography, top-class performance, evocative music and a haunting classic tale. Catch it at the Baxter. Following rave reviews of its debut in Germany, it’s primed to be one of the most prestigious shows to hit the space in the last decade.

The ever-brilliant Sylvaine Strike hits the Baxter with a post-modern classic, Kiss of the Spider Woman running from 9 to 26 March. Originally written in Spanish in the 70s by Manuel Puig, this extraordinary play combines romantic drama and political outcry. The two main characters are prisoners with opposing worldviews, facing love, betrayal and revolution. The film version of this play received three Oscar nominations. It’s a story of escapism, looking at the polarities between freedom and slavery, between identity and sexuality.

Jazz, Soul, RnB & Hip Hop

The Blue Room, overseen by established jazz cat, Buddy Wells, is an oasis where you can treat yourself to tapas and signature cocktails named after jazz icons such as the gin, Brut and lime-infused “Ella Fizzgerald” while listening to the country’s finest jazz, soul and blues artists. This jazz club on Bree street is here to electrify the live music scene since the pandemic hit. The Blue Room is hosting some top-tier live jazz acts this month. The Brother Moves On bring their fresh magic on the 23rd of March. Poet and pianist extraordinaire Kyle Shepherd will be on the keys on the 12th. Mr keys and the Funky Munks bring a uniquely funky sound on the 26th of March, blending trip-hop and jazz. Catch composer violinist and jazz pianist Nobuhle Ashanti for a treat on the 19th, and Lesotho-born rapper and singer Morena Leraba for some afro-house and hip hop on the 21st. A cover charge of R150 goes towards these dazzling live artists. Plus there are Jazz Jam Sessions every Thursday So get there early, order your drink and settle in as the blue curtains close off the outside world for a spell.

Looking for something slightly less refined but still a good old school jol? On the 4th of March, The Old Biscuit Mill is hosting A Private Affair. But there’s nothing private about this affair. It’s Cape Town’s biggest throwback party celebrating the golden age of hip hop and 90’s RnB. The night looks like it’s going to ruk from about 8pm to 2am. Tickets are available on Quicket ranging from R200 to R270 at the door. If you’re trying to get lit, this one’s for you.

Kirstenbosch Concerts and Cinema

The Summer Sunset concerts are back at Kirstenbosch. So you can spend your Sunday evening blissing with your picnic blanket, camembert and rosé, feeling larney. There are only two shows this month, with limited tickets and no designated smoking areas. I repeat: No designated smoking areas, not even for vapes or e-cigarettes – you will literally have to exit the venue to smoke. But it’s family friendly with the unmatched beauty of Kirstenbosch’s glorious mountain view and sprawling green gardens. Cape Town’s own Jimmy Nevis will be performing on the 20th of March with hits like Heartboxing, 7764 and Elephant Shoes. It’s R220 a ticket to see this local pop and R&B star, but the price drops to R170 if you’re under 21 – get it laaities. It appears that the only other concert –award-winning modern folk band Jeremy Loops – is already sold out on the 27th of March. So if you want to see Jimmy Nevis, I suggest you book now.

The Galileo Open Air Cinema is back too with movies that start at sunset on a massive screen, and finish under a ceiling of stars. There’s a mini market of artisanal food and drinks. Shrek is screening on the 24th – and Shrek never gets old. Then there’s Cruella on the 30th of March, the 2021 crime comedy adaption of 101 Dalmations’ perfect villain, Cruella de Vil.

Cape Town Carnival

The Cape Town Carnival is happening on the 19th of March, with five hubs instead of the usual single carnival moving along the street. Each hub will put on five shows, and you pay R10 for a limited ticket to each show. So, a bit trickier than what it was, but more Covid-safe. I’m not sure who came up with the names for these hubs (you’ll see what I mean), but they’re not particularly pithy, although each one offers something distinct:

There’s the Hatfield Street Hub: Mountains of Memories where the memory of District 6 will be brought to life through song, dance and design, with shows by the MTN Malay Choir and the Big Band Theory among others.

There’s the SA Museum Hub: Tales of Camissa which honours the First People of South Africa, with riel dance, spoken word and stilt walkers.

The National Gallery Hub: Cultural Roots featuring a resplendent float as a backdrop to performances by the Mali Drummers and the Ithongo Lethu Gumboot Dancers and more.

The Green Market Hub: The DRUM Era presenting performances by the MTN Minstrels and Jhoomkar and others.

Finally, the Heritage Square Hub: Umswenko is all about self-expression, swag and identity, with expressive dance and performances by Hanover Park Cadets, Tenacity, Michelle Davids Dance Group and more.

Needless to say, there’s a lot going on here so here’s a map.

Open Book Festival

The Open Book Festival will be live for the first time in two years. Finally, you can attend sessions in person with your literary faves instead of just listening to the podcasts in your house. The literary festival will be taking place on the 26th & 27th of March, so mark your calendars. The programme is yet to be announced, so keep your eye out for that. There are some stand-out new novels and new authors to look out for on the list, including It Doesn’t Have to be This Way by Alistair Mackay, a searing dystopian tale navigating queerness, climate collapse and virtual reality. There’s All Gomorrahs are the Same by Thenjiwe Mswane, an intergenerational tale told through the eyes of three women losing touch with each other. It looks at sexuality, mental health, addiction and loss. Also, Ougat by Shana Fife, a brutally honest story about how Coloured womanhood means giving a giant middle finger to the norm.