Photos: Annemarie Wichmann, except where stated differently.

Talent in abundance – the 35th Pukki Talent Festival for staff and students was an explosion of powerful performances, enjoyable classics and extraordinary talent.


Adriaan says it was a great honour to win the first prize in the Pukki Talent Festival. “It was a wonderful experience and I am privileged to have been part of such a top-quality event.” (Click on the picture above to listen what Charlie has to say.)


Rochelle Langford, administrative assistant for social media and marketing at the Unit for Continuing Education, was the runner-up and one of the highlights of the evening. (Click on the picture below to listen to her soulful rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a preacher man” in the style of Joss Stone.)


Creativity takes flight


In addition to the performing arts categories, students were able to enter creative art works such as paintings, graphic designs, sculptures, poems and prose in the category for creative arts.


Last year’s winners did it again this year. Gretchen Crots, the overall winner of the art and design category, won the Vice-Chancellor's Trophy as the overall winner of the creative category, while Ernest Else won the original writing category for poetry and prose.


The gala events of the annual festival, which is presented by the NWU Arts – Potchefstroom Campus and the Student Council’s Art Council on the campus in Potchefstroom, took place on 10 and 11 May.


This year’s winner in the staff category was Adriaan Jacobs, a senior laboratory technician at the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition. Adriaan is a gifted ventriloquist who gives life to a witty puppet, Charlie. Their entertaining act was a crowd favourite and earned them top honours in the competition.


He puts words in their mouths


“Learning ventriloquism is a lot like learning a new language,” says Adriaan who has been a ventriloquist since he was seven years old. “With time it becomes more natural and after a while I don’t even think any more what to do while I am talking. The sounds are formed spontaneously.”


Adriaan says when he started out he was the youngest child ventriloquist in South Africa. Since those days he has shared his gift at many events and had the opportunity to perform at various venues. “I often combine ventriloquism with singing to make it more entertaining. The audience loves it.”


He also has more than one “partner” in his shows. In addition to Charlie, Kosie and Gawie also entertain the crowds (although they did not participate in the talent festival). “The challenge is to give each of them a unique personality and always make them believable.”


A language called art


Jaco van der Walt, manager for NWU Arts – Potchefstroom Campus, says they create and maintain platforms for student and staff talent. “The Pukki Talent Festival is an ideal place to discover talent.”


He says the arts is a universal language and it is important to invest in this language because it builds bridges between people and cultures.


“The festival is a week-long occasion that starts with Pukki Visual and Pukki Classical, among others, and culminates with the gala events. Apart from the students and staff who perform, festival goers are also exposed to various genres of art that include theatre, dance, classical music and the visual arts.”


“During the performances for example they can encounter anything from Verdi and Mozart to ballet numbers and enjoy rock and pop bands. They are exposed to all kinds of entertainment and art which they may not usually get the opportunity to experience.”


Click on the images to enjoy the performances of some of our category winners.

Staff and students shine at talent festival