'Quirky', 'mystical' shows bring this fest goer

What makes a South African academic with an international reputation - and a problem with the cold - persuade three of his buddies to pack up their warmest gear and schlepp all the way from Gauteng to Smithfield with him for the Platteland Preview?

As you read this, Pierre Brouard, who heads the Centre for the Study of Aids at the University of Pretoria, and has an international reputation for his work on HIV-Aids, will be driving down to Smithfield with three friends for the weekend.

Pierre is a long time friend of the festival and earlier this year he also grabbed the chance to help the Preview via our Thundafund campaign. What makes him so keen to come to town and experience the festival for himself?

"I believe in supporting the arts," he says, "especially because in South Africa the arts are under-funded. I also like the fact that the festival programme makes a special effort to have an outreach component, and that it's trying to be more inclusive by exposing people, and especially children, who would otherwise never experience theatre, to the arts of all kinds, over this weekend."

"I also recognise that for small towns festivals like this can provide an important economic boost. Little towns need to be constantly reinventing themselves and the Platteland Preview is an excellent way of doing this.

"I'm interested in the arts in general, but I didn't want to go to a huge event like the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. For me this is much more fun. I can marry the experience of a boutique festival with a weekend away in the country with some friends!"

Pierre says he definitely won't miss the opening show: We didn't come to hell for the croissants. He has seen Jemma Kahn in her earlier show, Epicene Butcher and he so enjoyed her work that this new show is a stand-out for him at the 2015 fest.

But he plans to see a number of others as well. He liked the sound of some shows - "quirky, mystical, even weird" - and hopes he'll get in to see Actress and Girl, Waves and Every Beautiful Thing among others.

He says he'll be eating out, going to all the exhibitions, the music concerts, looking at books, antiques, bric-a-brac: "I love all of this".

And he won't forget to bring warm clothes. "I'm packing all my winter gear. I suffer even in Durban's winter, so I'll need everything I own to stay warm!"

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