Playwright Brett Bailey receives top award

Brett Bailey. Picture: Andreas Simopolous

Ambassador of France to South Africa, His Excellency Christophe Farnaud, bestowed on South African playwright, Brett Bailey, the award of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron at the Granger Bay Hotel School Restuarant, in Mouille Point, yesterday February 12. 

Mr Bailey is a South African playwright, designer, director and installation maker, and the artistic director of the performance company Third World Bunfight.

He was the curator of South Africa’s only public arts festival, Infecting the City, held in Cape Town from 2008 to 2011.

His works have played across Europe, Australia, Africa and Latin America and have won several awards including a gold medal for design at the Prague Quadrennial (2007).

Mr Bailey has worked extensively in France and was commissioned to create a visual campaign for the Marseilles France 2018 Festival.

Third World Bunfight’s newest production, Samson, will open at Woordfees in Stellenbosch from Friday March 8 to Sunday March 10, a lyrical, apocalyptic music-theatre piece created by Mr Bailey with choreography by Vincent Mantsoe and music by Shane Cooper.

“Brett Bailey is a revolutionary director, who’s broken the traditional boundaries by bringing theatre to the streets of Cape Town, during the public arts festival, Infecting the City. “In France, the opera Macbeth, or the performance Sanctuary, dedicated to the migrants, or Exhibit B, in which he addresses the human zoos of the colonial era, were acclaimed in the recent years as masterpieces of the performing arts,” said Mr Farnaud.

The Order of Arts and Letters is a French order established in 1957 and awarded by the French ministry of Culture in recognition of significant contributions to the enrichment of the arts and literature in France and abroad.

There are three degrees: knight, officer and commander.

South African citizens who have been awarded the order are Johnny Clegg (1991), William Kentridge (2013), Gregory Maqoma (2017) and Zanele Muholi (2017).