With renewed public outcry about the high rates of femicide, it’s now more important than ever to address the issues facing South Africa’s most vulnerable. This year’s Artscape Women Humanity Arts Festival hopes to do just that when it brings people of all walks of life together from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 12 August. Now in its 11th year, the festival focuses on humanity, women and disability by not only celebrating the bravest souls of our society, but also addressing the challenges they face.

Artscape Women Humanity Arts Festival

The launch in Artscape’s marble foyer will coincide with the opening of a new exhibition by sculptor Evette Weyers; before the opening performance of the Indoni Dance, Arts and Leadership Academy’s (pictured right)stage production, Ikhaya. From Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 August, Ikhaya, which means home, explores the roles of women at home and in the world, through dance. The production is presented in association with Artscape.

Drag divas in the house!

Cape Town has a scintillating drag tradition that dates back to the 1930s, especially in vibrant District Six. Today the pageants, the parties, the hair dressing salons and the fabulous drag queen shows still flourish across the city. The Absolutely Fabulous Drag Show endeavours to put the crème de la crème of drag on centre stage at the Artscape Theatre Centre.

With false eyelashes fluttering and sequins glittering, drag divas will gather to celebrate the world of “lip sync”, ambiguous seduction and gender identification. The enigmatic and hilarious Soli Philander will delve into his own wardrobe to reveal the rich tapestry of the sometimes outrageous characters from way back when.

Artscape Women Humanity Arts Festival

Top class drag divas Vida Fantabisher, SA’s Got Talent 2016 runner-up Manila von Teez (pictured left), as well as Kat Gilardi, Tiara Skye Harwood and Angel Lalamore of gay cabaret 3D fame, will be on the bill. Camillo Lombard will maintain a strict tempo while Basil Appollis will stitch it all together and crack the designer whip as director.

Woman Zone is inviting Cape Town’s women to be part of The Everywoman Project by helping to create a textile artwork that will eventually be on display at Artscape.  All are welcome – sewers and non-sewers alike are welcome to visit the Chandelier Foyer between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 5 August, to play their part in bringing this exciting collaborative project to life.

Award-winning theatre production

Actress Quanita Adams will perform a limited run of Nadia Davids’ acclaimed piece At Her Feet.  The production combines movement, song, poetry and monologues to explore issues like identity, Islamophobia and Islamic feminism through the eyes of four Muslim women in Cape Town. The piece is widely considered to be one of South Africa’s most significant post-apartheid works and its staging from Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12 August, will be the first in 13 years.

The Artscape Theatre Complex is set to become a hive of activity on Women’s Day on Wednesday 9 August. SAFFI and Woman Zone will join forces with Artscape at St George’s Cathedral from 9am for the annual Women’s Humanity Walk down to the Artscape Theatre Complex. The theme this year is Uniting Cape Town Against Gender Based Violence and as always, all are welcome – women, children and men – to join this iconic walk.

Books and music

Artscape Women Humanity Arts Festival

The New World Foundation will be launching their new book: Women Surviving Lavender Hill from 12:00. Facilitated by Kim Pillay, the book tells the story of seven women from Lavender Hill and how they survived a life of violence and abuse. These stories are written by the women themselves: Valerie Adams, Naema Moses, Margaret Arendse, Mary Bam, Veronica Kroukamp, Sheila Jacobs and Lorna Snyman.  Their narratives force a spotlight on the plight of women in a community ridden with crime, addiction and poverty; while also offering them strength and healing.

Afrikaans Sing in Vrouestemme is a free concert sponsored by Dagbreek Trust, which will feature an all-female cast in celebration of both Women’s Month and the Month of Afrikaans. Audiences can look forward to performances by Karin Kortje (pictured above) and eight vocal groups, including a 120-member mass choir. The show runs from 2 – 4pm.

What: Women Humanity Arts Festival 2017

Where and when: Artscape from 2 – 12 August

Book: Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695