Constellations returns to Spier

Musician Dizu Plaatjies, seen with audience members getting settled.

Spier, in association with Third World Bunfight, presents the second iteration of Constellations, a multi-layered outdoor presentation that will take place along the banks of the Eerste River, from Thursday November 25 to Saturday December 18.

Theatre maker Brett Bailey, who recently returned from a successful tour to France and Spain with Third World Bunfight’s acclaimed production of Samson, has once again devised and conceptualised Constellations with this year’s theme being ‘Into the Woods.’

Explaining the concept, Bailey describes how forests and wild places feature in the mythology and tales of many peoples, often presented as strange liminal regions beyond ordered familiarity and civil society’s codes.

“Take Goldilocks and Hansel and Gretel for instance,” he says. “Such tales confront weird and wonderful characters while in Xhosa folklore, wilderness creatures loom along the fragile boundaries that define the homestead.

“Also, woods are often associated with dreams, imagination and the unconscious arena, and from the eco perspective, they are cherished as wildlife havens that need to be treasured and protected.”

The riverside woodland setting makes Spier, a destination committed to the arts, long term sustainability and biodiversity, the ideal location for the event.

Twenty-seven artists – the Fire Guardians- will present at Constellations. They are musicians Odwa Bongo, Manu Grace, Moodship, FreeMan locs, Jak Tomas, Nkosenathi Koela, Thandeka Mfinyongo, Miles Sievwright and Dizu Plaatjies; performance artists Nwabisa Plaatjie, Gaetan Schmid, Thando Doni, Rehane Abrahams, Qondiswa James, Wessel Pretorius, Nico Athene, Siphenathi Mayekiso, Louise Westerhout, Megan Choritz and Odidi Mfenyana; poets and storytellers Philippa Kabali-Kagwa, Liza Scholtz, Malika Ndlovu and Toni Giselle Stuart, and mystics and mavericks Rod Suskin, Lindi Dlamini and Tapiwa Gurza.

Bailey again adopts a non-directorial approach and has curated three routes, each with three Guardians who will receive their audiences around their own campfire.

The element of surprise is that people will have no idea which Guardians or what type of performance they’ll encounter on their journey. Each session will be approximately 30 minutes long and will take on a variety of forms be it interactive, presentational or meditational, whatever each artist feels best represents his or her ‘Into the Woods’ interpretation.

Constellations is an opportunity to connect with others through these intriguing encounters while ensconced in a nocturnal ring of enlightenment. For the Guardians the experiences are equally validating, a way to creatively explore the outdoor space and celebrate their artistic expression. It is a sensorial, cultural encounter with strangers and nature, aimed to enchant. “Spectators will return to the city with the smell of smoke in their clothes, their souls enriched and their imaginations expanded,” adds Bailey.

As always, COVID-19 precautions will be upheld with sanitising, social distancing and small groups moving about in safety. Spectators are encouraged to wear warm clothing and comfortable walking shoes.

Constellations runs at Spier from Thursdays through Saturdays from 25 November to 18 December 2021 at 20h00, with arrival promptly at 19h30. Tickets cost R180 per person and include a glass of Spier wine on arrival. Picnic tickets cost from R500 to 850 per couple with arrival times at 18h00 for the mini picnic and 18h30 for the sunset picnic. In line with COVID-19 restrictions, advance booking is required and limited seats are available via Webtickets: . PG12.

A 30% accommodation discount at the Spier Hotel is also available to ticket holders who can claim the offer by booking online with the code CONSTELLATIONS. Located only 40 minutes outside of Cape Town, Spier, one of Stellenbosch’s oldest wine farms, is the ideal winelands getaway destination with a host of leisure activities, pursuits and wholesome family experiences set against the backdrop of a unique historic werf and vineyards tended with a contemporary farming sensibility that places the earth and people first.

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