By CityLIfe Arts Writer
The upcoming inaugural Journey to Jazz festival is breaking yet more new ground with the revival of a disused quarry that has been “upcycled” as an open-air amphitheatre that can seat 90 people. Called the ‘Kritikom Koppie Theatre’, the amphitheatre will be the official space from which, Advocate Thuli Madonsela (Patron of the Prince Albert Community Trust – PACT), will formally declare Journey to Jazz open on Friday 5 May 2023.
The theatre has been named for the nutritious Diospyros ramulosa plant, locally called Kritikom, that the area’s children pick and eat at will, and lies between South and North End community, uniting the town.
However, few know that this former quarry and now entertainment space, is also part of a cross continental phenomena. The distinctive white line of rock found in the quarry and known as the Matjiesfontein Chert Bed, or the Matjiesfontein White Band Marker is also a recognised “extinction horizon” and speaks of a devastating geographical event – a flood that happened 260-million years ago when Africa and Argentina were joined together as one.
In the lead up to the town’s maiden Jazz festival, which is being co-produced by more than 100 of Prince Albert’s youth, PACT approached local ‘land artists’ Anni Snyman and PC van Rensburg to create something that would highlight this ancient and fragile Karoo environment to visitors, but also, build social cohesion in the community.
With Prince Albert resident, world renowned Karoo veld expert, Dr Sue Dean’s help, Snyman identified this ridge, which had been left abandoned and then desecrated, as an ideal site from which to create a rock amphitheatre for the Journey to Jazz festival’s launch.
Going forward, the Kritikom Theatre will also be a space where artists can perform and will play host to a variety of other events the town has on its social calendar.
The project had some hurdles to cross but with the active support of the municipality who own the land, local champions, like Dr Sue Dean, Marius Scholtz, and others, as well as a team of young people from the surrounding area, the project has come to life – in some lights even looking like a moonscape here on earth.
Ancient stones were also found around the site, speaking of an ancient glacier that came from the Limpopo district, 320 million years ago. These ancient rocks have also been included in the theatre space and will provide seating for about 90 people.
Artists appearing at the main festival include among others:
·The Mike Rossi Project: Roots and Routes – Mike Rossi, Blake Hellaby, Sibusiso Matsimela, and Lilavan Gangen
·Hassan’adas – John Hassan, Lucas Khumalo, Trevino Isaacs, Nathan Carolus, and Keegan Williams
· Kyle Shepherd Trio – Kyle Shepherd, Shane Cooper and Jonno Sweetman
·Melanie Scholtz featuring Hein Ven Der Geyn
·UCT Little Big Band and the Amanda Tiffin trio
·Ramon Alexander and the Maties Jazz Society
·Karoo Jazz Project with Tribal Echo and Ramon Alexander
.The launch of Journey to Jazz takes place at Kritikom Koppie rock theater on Friday the 5th May. For more information on the Journey to Jazz festival please see www.journeytojazz.co.za or book tickets at quicket.co.za