Sunday, 17 November 2013

Talks and TALKS

My first mini-FEAT event happened in Cape Town on Thursday night - kindly hosted by Mountain Club of South Africa (Cape Town section). Mini-FEAT events differ from the annual FEAT in that there are only two speakers: a local adventurer who speaks in the regular seven-minute FEAT format and a foreign, visiting speaker who has a full-length slot. Our speakers were Kyle O'Donoghue (expedition cameraman) and British adventurer, Stephen Venables.

I haven't been in Cape Town for ages and it was a superb trip with a lot of meeting and mingling and theatre venue scouting from when I got down there on Tuesday. I felt like I was going into the event blind, not quite knowing the setup and without my usual setup of a theatre venue, trusty sound guy... and also it is comparatively easy to organise a mini-FEAT as there are two talks, not 10 and there is little of the regular FEAT bells-and-whistles but still a FEAT-ness and vibe. Mini-FEAT has been designed to be a quick and easy event to organise to make use of visiting adventurers at short notice. So, without all the usual hubbub, I kept feeling like I had forgotten to do something.

Well, a wonderfully supportive crowd came through and it was a treat to meet some people, who I know well on email, in person and also to see some people who I haven't seen for ages. As with FEAT, the audience was quite an esteemed one with adventurers from many disciplines coming through to hear the talks.

The evening rocked and feedback from those who have been to FEAT and to 'regular' talks was very positive. They love the FEAT twist with the 'opening act' and general FEAT vibe. Indeed, mini-FEAT is here to stay and events will pop up as and when I hear of visitors coming to SA shores.

There were also many in the audience who have attended lectures and presentations by all kinds of top-notch adventurers and they all said that they thought that Stephen was the best yet. So, it's not just my over-enthusiastic bias and Shackleton interest that rated Stephen one of my all-time favourites too. Telling my mom about the talk afterwards she asked how long his talk was (broken by an intermission) and I couldn't tell her. It's the type of talk where you're so enthralled that 45-minutes feels like five minutes.

This mini-FEAT 'series' is a two part installment with Stephen Venables heading up to Jo'burg and he'll be speaking at mini-FEAT in Jo'burg on Monday night. Yes, THIS monday night - 18 Nov. Although we don't have ticketing facilities at the Victory Theatre on Monday night, you can book your tickets online up until the start - and with a bigger space we do still have seating available.

There are talks and there are TALKS. This is the latter and whether you're into adventuring yourself or not, it's the kind of talk that will have you spellbound regardless.

Earlier this week I went to a brilliant talk at GIBS by Tony Leon. He was the SA ambassador to Argentina and I recently read his superb book, 'The Accidental Ambassador'. GIBS brought Tony up from Cape Town to speak as part of the Latin American Film Festival that they were hosting (I did a three-movie marathon on Sunday afternoon/night - excellent!). 

Attending Tony's really informative - and entertaining - talk reminded me how many talks are on the go all the time - across a range of topics. Wits University has regular lectures, which are open to the public and it is probably the same for UJ, Tuks and other universities around the country. Looking on the GIBS website, they have some really interesting Forum events - for a fee of R200 - R250 (the Tony Leon talk, being part of the festival, was free to attend - what a scoop!).

I'm going to try to keep my eye on what lectures are happening because I really enjoy these, especially those outside my usual sphere of topics and interests. It would be nice to attend a few every year.

The best reason to attend any talk is because you don't know much about the topic. Nice way to learn new stuff.

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