South African Arts Festival 2002

International Celebration of Aesthetics

October 11-13, 2002 – Johannesburg: The 3rd Annual South African Arts Festival was held on the new premises of Johannesburg’s Church of Scientology in the suburb of Kensington. Nearly 400 attendees, workshop participants and performers enjoyed a vibrant celebration featuring three concerts and seventeen workshops over the weekend.

Guest of Honour for the Friday night opening concert was Professor Ian Raper, former professor of English and Afrikaans literature, poet, authority on South African poetry and currently President of the prestigious Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science. Professor Raper said he was astounded by the high calibre of performances given by both amateur and professional singers, dancers, musicians and poets.

South African Artist, Tim Cooke, donated his original painting (see left) which was a logo for the 2002 3rd Annual South African Arts Festival . The painting was auctioned as part of the final concert of the festival.

The Friday night concert began in darkness with the distant sound of a single African drum (traditionally used as a means of communication from village to village). Another drum answered from afar on the other side of the concert hall. Both distant drummers continued performing while advancing towards the hall. When they finally entered the auditorium, a Western style drummer joined the building crescendo which climaxed with a team of African dancers from Soweto (accompanied by even more drummers), who swarmed into the hall to enrapture all with soulful rhythms and native dance!

Chris Dresser, the Director of the Festival Committee and co-host for the evening, gave a soliloquy on the intuitive understanding the people of Africa have for music as communication. Mr. Dresser noted the alignment of humanitarian and writer L. Ron Hubbard’s emphasis on the importance of the artist in any successful society.

Before Mr. Dresser was able to introduce the first performer for the evening, Guy McQuade, a British ‘tourist’ (from Saint Hill, England) blundered into the hall and demanded to know where he could see the wild animals of Africa! This led to an hilarious exchange of wisecracks between the two, as well as with the other co-host John Skuy, Artistic Director for the Festival, when he later introduced more of the acts.

Mr. McQuade became a running gag throughout the evening, while fourteen different acts were introduced. These include a professional rock band, The Cuban Doctors, The Wridgeway ‘Blues Brothers’ and numerous other solo acts of singing, poetry and acting performances which completed the wonderful evening.

The audience was also treated to a special appearance of Native American Hollywood actor and drama coach, George Randall (‘There’s an Indian in my cupboard’, ‘Con Air’ and ‘Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman’). Mr. Randall gave the predominantly South African audience a great insight into the history, culture and heritage of the Native American people. South Africans of all ethnic backgrounds are surrounded by a wealth of wonderful African traditions and it was really insightful to draw comparisons between these two ancient cultures.

Special mention must also be made of a young performer, Celine Pretorious, who graduated from Narconon Johannesburg two weeks before the festival. Ms. Pretorious, who has been singing all her life, celebrated her 16th birthday while participating in Narconon’s very successful drug rehabilitation program. She has an unbelievable voice and the audience was profoundly affected by this beautiful young girl’s talent and her narrow escape from a life of degradation from drugs. It is expected that she will become an International star in the near future.

Seventeen different two-hour workshops were held in six different rooms during three periods on both Saturday and Sunday. A couple of the most popular workshops were repeated due to public demand.

The workshops were as follows: Music; Drama; Poetry; Writing; Basics of drumming; Basics of Guitar; Art of Public Speaking; The Art of Massage; The Art of Judo and Karate; A lecture on the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises’ Business Methods; How to Sell Yourself as an Artist; How to Become a Disc Jockey; Photography; Flute; African Dance; and The Art of Computers.

As with previous festival workshops, a number of participants revived their purposes or discovered new excitement in an art form they had not previously attempted.

The workshops featured the use of creative and administrative methodologies developed by L. Ron Hubbard to help artists and groups expand their sphere of activity. Mr. Hubbard’s ‘Art’ book was utilized as a prominent resource.

Stan and Tsion Kehella, with Ivan Batchvorov, were amongst the featured performers for the Saturday and Sunday evening concerts.

The Festival Committee, headed by Executive Producer Robin Hogarth (who is also the Director of the St. Hill International Arts Festival that is held annually in East Grinstead, England), began planning the 4th Annual South African Arts Festival which will be held 26-28 September, 2003.

Mr. Hogarth expressed his desire to foster a growing exchange of artists and visitors between the St. Hill International Arts Festival in East Grinstead, England; the Artists For A Better World International Arts Festival in Hollywood, California in the United States; and of course the South African Arts Festival in Johannesburg. Said Mr. Hogarth, “These three associated art festivals continue to work magic in our world by inspiring the creation of a better world through the application and inspiration of aesthetics.”