A black and white get-together in People’s Front Rooms
At the end of September 2004, Will Janssen,
programme manager of Culture International at the DOEN Foundation,
visited the Front Room Festival in Darling, South Africa.
Darling is a town in the Swartland region of South Africa. It
lies about 80 kilometres north of Cape Town and has a population
of 8,500. This town represents South Africa in a nutshell, as the
black and white communities live divided from one other - by a railway
line. Darling's main claim to fame is that it is the home of writer
and entertainer Pieter-Dirk Uys, who bought the train station and
converted it into to a theatre. This theatre formed the central
hub of the Front Room Festival that was held here at the end of
The Front Room Festival was a joint production by Dutch, South
African and English artists. The public could enjoy productions
in various disciplines such as music, dance, theatre and literature.
These productions were put on in eighteen different front rooms
and sitting rooms scattered throughout Darling. The white artists
put on their shows in Darling's black neighbourhood and vice versa,
with audiences being ferried between the different locations by
bus. In this way, a special, light-hearted atmosphere was created
in which people from different cultural backgrounds could get together
and get to know each other.
two 'Front Rooms' in Darling
This year was the first time that the Darling Foundation organised
the Front Room Festival and there are now plans to hold it every
year. The festival is supported by the DOEN Foundation.
Programme Manager Culture International, Doen Foundation