The National Arts Festival Grahamstown joins fellow members of the World Fringe Alliance (WFA) in congratulating South African director, writer, educator, producer and arts leader Rob Murray on his appointment as Artistic Director of the Amsterdam Fringe, a Festival with “deep and meaningful” connections to the South African industry. Murray was announced as the new Director today. He will be replacing Anneke Jansen, who has held the position since the launch of the Amsterdam Fringe ten years ago, and was until recently Chair of the Alliance.
“This is a great feather in the cap for South African theatre, as our directors and producers prove yet again that they are significant forces globally,” Festival CEO Tony Lankester said. “Rob has enormous breadth of experience working across the South African industry – including presenting work on the Fringe, Arena and Main stages of the National Arts Festival and at the Cape Town Fringe, as well as at other major Festivals and institutions. Now he gets to help shape the future direction and footprint of an already exciting and established Fringe Festival in an amazing city, and we’re looking forward to observing and supporting his progress.”
The World Fringe Alliance (WFA), which has a global reach of over 3.5-million audience members, was launched four years ago with Lankester as the founding Chair. Apart from the Festivals in Grahamstown and Amsterdam, its membership includes the world’s largest Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, as well as Brighton, Adelaide, Perth, New York, Hollywood and Prague.
“Through the Alliance we have developed a deep and meaningful partnership with Amsterdam, which has resulted in dozens of South African artists presenting their work in that city, and a similar number of Dutch productions travelling to Grahamstown and Cape Town. Having Rob at the helm of the Amsterdam Fringe will hopefully help ensure that the special relationship between our two Festivals will continue, and that we can create similar opportunities for a new generation of artists,” Lankester said.
Echoing this, Murray pointed to the experiences he’s had in South African theatre as being integral to success in his new role “Growing up, and committing, as an artist in South Africa requires one to be independent, thick-skinned, resourceful, and often bloody-minded. One learns and pushes against systems continuously. Along the way you get to align with like-minded colleagues and co-conspirators, and the Fringe network is strong and vital to the continued development of theatre in all societies. The opportunity to work as part of an amazing team in an incredible city is at once awe-inspiring and humbling,” he said. He referred also to the partnership between the National Arts Festival and Amsterdam Fringe, citing the “special relationship” that has blossomed between the two. “Whatever else happens in the world, relationships such as this demonstrate that Fringe festivals, independently and together, are in a very healthy and exciting place.”
Author: Gilly Hemphill
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