Theatre alert: Covid Moons live streaming at National Arts Festival 2021, July 30, and VOD on July 31

What: Covid Moons at National Arts Festival 2021 Live stream: Friday July 30 at 6pm Release as VOD – video-on-demand: Sat July 31, 2021 14:00 – July 31, 2021 23:59 Duration: 90 minutes Tickets: R40 Direct booking link:  

The Curated Programme of The National Arts Festival 2021, wraps up on Saturday, July 31.  A much anticipated play on NAF 2021, is Covid Moons, written and directed by Clare Stopford, with contributions by Khathu Ramabulana. The play is being live streamed, tomorrow, July 30, 2021, 6pm. It is 90 minutes. The recording of the play will be available on the NAF website as VOD – video-on-demand – on Saturday July 31 from 2pm until a minute to midnight, when the festival closes. To re-iterate, you can watch it live, when it is streamed from Atlantic Studios in Cape Town – from 6pm – tomorrow- Friday. And/or you can watch it as VOD on Saturday from 2pm until the festival finishes. That is it.

I saw Covid Moons, on-stage, in November 2020, when it premiered at the Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) in Riebeek Kasteel. There was an audience-in-attendance- with spaced out physical/distanced seating. It was an extraordinary experience, watching this powerful and captivating play, under the stars in Riebeek Kasteel- a NEW play, during Covid. The genesis of the play was sparked for Clare Stopford, by the isolation and confinement of Covid and how young people steered through hard lockdown – separated physically but finding new ways of connecting, emotionally – with their peers, family and colleagues. And what about romance in hard lockdown –without a hug or kiss? That is core to the play – finding alternative modes of conversing and how we have navigated relationships – in all spheres.  It is a remarkable play, which uses puppetry (Shakespeare -a play within a play) and pre-recorded video calls. The video calls are beamed onto a screen. This means that essentially the cast on stage, is extended by the characters that we see on stage.

I will never forget the experiencing of Covid Moons, in the amphitheatre setting, with a masked audience, thrilled to be out at the theatre. There was this awe of watching a large scale production – on a big stage with a set (brilliantly assembled from scaffolding by Mark Graham-Wilson, artistic director of RATA). It did not seem possible that during the pandemic, we would be able to see a production with ambitious production values. The play was/is produced by RATA, Mark Graham-Wilson and Clare Stopford. I loved the play. Interview and review links follow. Scroll down.

The Covid Moons team was delighted when the play was invited onto the Curated Programme at NAF 2021, to be staged at the Live Makhanda platform, in front of a limited audience. The Delta variant and increased lockdown regulations put a spike into Live Makhanda and the NAF went online. However, where possible, artists have been travelling to Makhanda, to perform on stage, with no audience-in-attendance- only a stage and film crew. Shows have been streaming live from Makhanda and some have been placed on the NAF site as recordings; VOD – video-on-demand.

Plans for Covid Moons to go physically, to Makhanda were derailed. A cast member came down with Covid. When it was not possible to get to Makhanda, Graham-Wilson says it was decided to live stream the play from Atlantic Studios in Cape Town. For Makhanda 2021, the play was going to be staged in a large space and Graham-Wilson had shifted his design to fit in with an indoor theatre. With the staging in a film studio, Graham-Wilson has had to again re-calibrate the set design. In addition to design, he had to keep in mind lighting issues which go with filming a live show. The principals in the cast are new – Celeste Loots and Thulani Nzonzo- ie different actors will be on stage and not the actors that performed at the premiere season, at RATA in November 2020. Charl Clayton is reviving his role as the “homeless busker musician.” I look forward to seeing Covid Moons, live streaming, at NAF 2021.

NOTE: NAF’s CEO Monica Newton said at the start of the NAF, that the intention was to keep the Fringe up as an ongoing platform but there is no guarantee that all the shows on the Fringe will remain as some shows may migrate to other festivals/platforms. You have until July 31, 2021, to see as much as possible on The Curated Programme and on The Fringe.

Production credits for Covid Moons at National Arts Festival 2021 – live stream and VOD  

Written and directed: by Clare Stopford, with contributions by Khathu Ramabulana


Magda: Celeste Loots
Lufuno: Thulani Nzonzo
Homeless Busker Musician: Charl Clayton

On video call:

Lufuno’s Ma: Sylvia Mngxekeza
Derek: Sanda Shandu
Martine: Clare Stopford
Magda’s Pa: Marcel van Heerden
Nomusa: Zandile Madliwa
Hilda: Kelly Jeffery
Magda’s Ouma: Antoinette Kellerman
Trevor: Alistair Davis Set and lighting design: Mark Graham-Wilson

Puppet design and construction: Merryn Carver
Video assembly: Mathew Muller
Poster design: Maggie Gerieke
Stage manager: James Makoto

Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre- Director and Producer Mark Graham-Wilson  

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Covid Moons: In rehearsal for the live stream production at The National Arts Festival 2021- Thulani Nzonzo and Celeste Loots.

Covid Moons – at its premiere in November 2020, Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) in Riebeek Kasteel.© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

Featured image: Thulani Nzonzo and Celeste Loots.

Links to Covid Moons coverage on TheCapeRobyn- the November 2020 premiere at Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) in Riebeek Kasteel:


Interview with Clare Stopford: