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Woordpoort: Pretoria’s first literary art festival


From 24 to 27 September 2009, Gauteng’s very first literary art festival, Woordpoort, took place at the University of Pretoria. Woordpoort is the brainchild of Linette van der Merwe and an initiative of the FAK, in cooperation with the University of Pretoria. The plan is to present the festival annually in September.


The existence of various Afrikaans arts festivals indicates that South Africa’s Afrikaans-speaking population has a need for performing and creative entertainment. All the arts festivals in South Africa are region-bound, and until now Gauteng has not had an arts festival with the main focus on Afrikaans literary art. More than 1.2 million Afrikaans-speaking people stay in Gauteng, and they generally have to travel far distances to attend arts festivals. The aim of Woordpoort is to promote Afrikaans literature by presenting quality productions to an audience that appreciates it. All the genres of literary art are included.


For this first festival, the organisers made a great effort to put together an interesting programme. Theatre productions included Opentoe, Lagnes and Zack-'n-Pak, a satirical comedy in which Zack du Plessis and Magda van Biljon appeared together on stage for the first time in 30 years. Furthermore, there were three productions that incorporated the work of the well-known and much-loved Philip de Vos.


Contemporary music was celebrated with performances by Anna Davel, André G Nel, Piet van Wyk de Vries, Herman van den Bergh, Louïne van den Vyver, and Jannie du Toit and Christa Steyn. Classical music also featured in the Nuwe Afrikaanse Kunsliedkonsert, where poems that had been especially written for the concert by prominent Afrikaans poets and set to music by leading South African composers were performed by the likes of Hanli Stapela and Chris Mostert.


Furthermore, various interesting art exhibitions were held, and FAK blitz seminars were hosted on controversial issues. A total of 14 books were launched at the festival, and various authors hosted discussions on their work. A highlight was the book lunch with PG and Hans du Plessis and a menu selected from dishes in Onthoukos, a book by Heleen Meyer that won a medal at the international Gourmand Cookbook Awards.