Theatre gems from across South Africa get top billing at Hilton Arts Festival

hedwig

Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

THE brilliantly innovative, heartbreaking and wickedly funny musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch is one of the must-see productions at this year’s Hilton Arts Festival, which runs at Hilton College from September 15 to September 17.

With its pulsing score and electrifying performances, the plot revolves around a musical about a fictional rock band fronted by an East German transgender singer, Hedwig, who has survived a botched sex change operation, which was performed to allow her to marry an American man and escape from East Germany, only to get dumped a few months later.

She subsequently develops a relationship with a younger man, Tommy, becoming his mentor and musical collaborator, until Tommy steals her music and moves on without her.

The musical follows Hedwig and her roadie as they shadow Tommy’s tour, while exploring Hedwig’s past and complex gender identity.

Starring Paul du Toit and Genna Galloway, who both won Fleur du Cap awards for their performances, this Tony Award-winning show is directed by Elizma Badenhorst.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch can be seen at 8.30 pm on September 15, at 8.30 pm onSeptember 16 and 12.45 pm on September 17 in the Hilton College Theatre. Tickets are R199.

Chuma Sopotela in Karoo Moose

Karoo Moose.

Another unmissable production is Lara Foot’s Karoo Moose, a story of pain, redemption and hope.

The play cleverly and creatively combines traditional African storytelling and magical realism, and has already garnered 18 prestigious local theatre awards.

Set in an impoverished village in the Karoo, it tells the story of a young girl, Thozama, whose life is changed forever after her father uses her to pay his gambling debt.

The disintegration of the family unit and the violation of innocence endured by so many South African children, are the focus of the play which has received overwhelming praise from critics and audiences.

Karoo Moose stars Bongile Mantsai and Zoleka Helesi, along with Chuma Sopotela, Mdu Kweyama, Thami Mbongo and Mfundo Tshazibane. The actors each perform a key character and double up to play multiple additional characters, adding to the magic of the story.

Catch it in the Hilton College Theatre at 1 pm on September 16. Tickets are R199.

THE INCONVENIENCE OF WINGS Andrew Buckland, Jennifer Steyn in Lara Foot's The Inconvenience of Wings, pic by Oscar 'O Ryan

The Inconvenience of Wings.

Foot also directs the award-winning play The Inconvenience of Wings, which stars Jennifer Steyn, Andrew Buckland and Mncedisi Shabangu.

Earlier this year the play, which has enjoyed many a full house, received the coveted Fleur du Cap awards for best director (Foot), best actor (Buckland) and best actress (Steyn).

Set in a landscape of memory and dreams, it tackles the issues of friendship, dysfunction, addiction and angels.

Sara (Steyn) has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; she is compulsive, alive and hates women who know how to make cupcakes. Paul (Buckland), her husband, is on a mission to find a cure for her afflictions and Professor James (Shabangu) quietly tries to save Paul’s sanity.

Catch the show in the Hilton College Theatre at 10 am September 16 and 10 am onSeptember 17. Tickets are R199.

Fans of Oom Schalk Lourens will love After Dark in the Groot Marico, which is being staged in the Memorial Hall at 3 pm on September 16 and 12.45 pm on September 17.

Directed by Tara Notcutt, Andrew Laubscher and Sive Gubangxa bring you Herman Charles Bosman’s tales of old. Using physical theatre and nothing but their bodies, they weave a world of wonder and magic as they take you on a comic-book style whirlwind journey into the Marico.

I was lucky enough to see an earlier version of this show and thought it was brilliant. Tickets are R150.

AGONY - CRAIG MORRIS

Craig Morris in Agony.

The talented Craig Morris (Tartuffe, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny) returns to Hilton with Agony — In Loving Memory of Greg Melvill-Smithconceived by Greg Melvill-Smith and Douglas Thistlewhite, and written by Iain Paton.

The play, directed by Megan Willson and featuring puppet design by Jenni-lee Crewe, tells the story of Malcolm Leask, a man and his cats, coming to terms with where life has left him.

“Greg was far more than just a son-in-law to me. It is a real honour for me to have a team of this calibre to bring Agony to fruition,” said Thistlewhite.

The show is in the Drama Centre at 5 pm on September 16 and 10 am on September 17. Tickets are R120.

In Rajesh Gopie’s Out of Bounds, 27 characters come to life through two actors in a story of an Indian family in transition from apartheid to democracy.

This production, which is directed by Crizelle Anthony and stars Tazme Pillay and Tailyn Ramsamy, won a Standard Bank Ovation Award in Grahamstown in 2016.

Catch it in the Drama Centre at 7 pm on September 15, and 7.30 pm on September 16. Tickets are R120.

Milton 1

The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy.

Peter Mitchell from Pietermaritzburg, directs award-winning actor Francis Mennigke in a new production of Greig Coetzee’s The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy.

Named after the poet, Milton is an artist whose talents lie, um, elsewhere. His not so intellectual brain has been filled with fantasies of being a great artist by his mother, a pathetic woman who tries to live vicariously through her son’s meagre talents.

Despite his unique mind, everyone can relate to this small man with huge dreams as he struggles to fly above his own mediocre life.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will never see the Mona Lisa the same way again.

The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy is in the Drama Centre at 11 am on September 16, and 2.15 pm on September 17. Tickets are R110.

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