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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE WITNESS HILTON ARTS FESTIVAL (article first published : 2006-08-5)

True to its own benchmark form, the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festival to be held from September 15 to 17 at Hilton College outside Pietermaritzburg promises to be a dazzling line-up of cutting-edge drama, dance, comedy, music and cabaret. It will also offer an enticing array of arts and crafts in a bumper programme that features a stellar programme of hot property South African performers and artists mostly gleaned from the Grahamstown festival in July.

The festival once again will have an eclectic mix of classical music hosted by Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival Concerts.

Among the line up of productions secured so far include The Devil and Billy Markham - “It is an ordinary night when Billy Markham, guitarist, rambler, and travelling man, meets the devil in a bar …” Graham Clarke’s fabulous story about Billy Markham - told in rhyming couplets – is a theatrical treat and the perfect vehicle to showcase Graham Clarke delicious comedy talents.

Kickstart presents Glorious which traces the improbable but true story of flamboyant wanna-be diva, Florence Foster Jenkins, who couldn’t sing a note but was not deterred from giving concerts at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall to tremendous popular acclaim n the 1930s. Glorious will star Ali Cassels as Florence, with Anthony Stonier as her put-upon accompanist Cosme McMoon.

Grandpa Grumps & The Magical Junk Shop written by Neil Coppin and performed by Bryan Hiles deals with a grumpy old junkshop owner who constantly loses things in all his junk. It’s his granddaughter’s birthday and he can’t find Molly, the missing rag doll. Join him on an adventure and help him find his spectacles, false teeth, and Molly - and most importantly, his imagination.

Ben Voss and John van de Ruit are back with their latest show Black Mamba. Subtitled “More Venomous Comedy With a Deadly Bite”, Black Mamba premiered at last year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July and was, according to Computicket, officially the fastest selling show on the fringe! It is written by John, Ben and Greig Coetzee with direction by Murray McGibbon. This time Ben and John have sharpened their pencils to make Black Mamba more of a biting satire than their previous productions.

Hoot is written and directed by Geraldine Naidoo and performed by Matthew Ribnick. It is the colourful journey of a rich white man who loses everything and ends up becoming a mini-bus taxi driver. From the creators of Chilli Boy, the show has received a great deal of critical acclaim. It has been described as “a glorious defining moment in post-democratic South African theatre."

TWO: The beginning of the End is written by Clare Mortimer and Neil Coppen and directed by Steven Stead Two. This subversive, contemporary twist on the popular children's classic Peter Pan is set in a Point Road brothel. A man (Pieter) arrives at a prostitute’s (Wendy) window claiming to be an incarnation of the eternal flying boy and offering her the chance to escape with him to paradise-'Neverland'. A dark, nightmarish journey into the seedy subterranean underbelly of a city where the fun never sets.

Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company presents Chasing Rainbows which is inspired by the Blue Man Group, an international musical phenomenon. Continuing the tradition of producing dance programmes for young people that is fun, participative and hugely entertaining, Chasing Rainbows will take young audiences on a journey of dance, music and mime addressing key issues of social tolerance and understanding of others. This interactive 50 minute programme celebrates the notion of a rainbow nation as it takes the audience on a journey of self discovery. It features David Gouldie and Angela Lardant. Narration and story is by Karen van Pletsen. This production has successfully toured to schools throughout KZN with great success.




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