James Cairns set to dazzle KZN Midlands theatre-goers at the Hilton Arts Festival

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James Cairns stars in ‘The Devil and Billy Markham’.

MARITZBURG College Old Boy, James Cairns, returns to the KZN Midlands with two shows — The Devil and Billy Markham and The Old Man and The Sea. Both will be presented at Hilton College as part of the Hilton Arts Festival, which runs from September 15 to 17. Continue reading

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Don’t miss James Cairns in the smart and sassy one-hander, ‘El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi’ at Michaelhouse

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James Cairns stars in the award-winning one-man show, El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi, at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse on February 3. Photo: Dex Goodman

ESTELLE SINKINS speaks to James Cairns about his one-man show, El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi, which is being staged at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse on February 3. Continue reading

Don’t miss James Cairns in ‘El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi’ at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse

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James Cairns stars in the award-winning one-man show, El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi, at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse on February 3. Photo: Dex Goodman

IT’S hard to beat the story well told.  Stories in themselves are an act of creation, connecting the past with the present. Creation itself is a story. Without stories, we would have nothing but darkness and silence.

This is what James Cairns’s character El Blanco believes. While he may unashamedly spin a pack of lies, in this instance, he comes close to the truth.

In El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi – which is being staged at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse in Balgowan at 7.30 pm on Friday, February 3 – his struggle, mostly with himself, to earn the title of Mariachi is masterfully presented through music and storytelling. Continue reading

Top notch drama heading to the Hilton Arts Festival

Don't miss Born in the RSA at the Hilton Arts Festival.

Don’t miss Born in the RSA at the Hilton Arts Festival.

SOME of the best drama shows in the country will be staged at the Hilton Arts Festival this weekend.

A Man and A Dog — featuring Fleur du Cap nominated, Nhlanhla Mhkwanazi, and directed by 2014 Fleur du Cap winner, Penelope Youngleson — is a coming-of-age story of a young Zulu boy’s search for the parents he never knew, and how he found himself on the long journey back to his home.

Originally written by Mkhwanazi, and now rewritten by Youngleson, it still maintains the essence of the much-beloved production that toured the main stages of the country in 2006.

The play makes use of oral tradition, songs and physical theatre to weave together a retelling of our collective family as South Africans. It will be staged in the Memorial Hall at 3 pm on Saturday, September 19.

Animal Farm is unmissable!

Animal Farm is unmissable!

Also coming to the festival at Hilton College, which runs from September 17 to 20, is Animal Farm, Neil Coppen’s adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel. While the themes, characters and ideas behind Orwell’s text remain unchanged, his production tells the story with a uniquely South African slant.

The play features an all-female cast: Momo Matsunyane, Mpume Mthombeni, Khutjo Bakunzi-Green, Mandisa Nduna, Zesuliwe Hadebe and Tshego Khutsoane.

Coppen says: “It’s a gift for any writer to work with Orwell’s timeless text and find creative ways to transfer it to a local farm setting without altering the source material in the process. There’s even a firepool!”

Animal Farm is being staged in the Grindrod Bank Theatre at 9 am on Saturday, September 19. No under 13s.

Marty Kintu and Andrew Buckland in Blue/Orange.

Marty Kintu and Andrew Buckland in Blue/Orange.

You’d be mad to miss Joe Penhall’s gripping psychological thriller, Blue/Orange. Directed by Clare Stopford, it stars Andrew Buckland, Nicholas Pauling and Marty Kintu.

Winner of the Evening Standard Award, London Critics’ Circle Theatre Award and the 2001 Laurence Olivier Award for best new play, Blue/Orange mixes up mental illness, with issues of race, ethnocentricity and power.

See it in the Grindrod Bank Theatre at 8.30 pm on September 19 and 9.30 am on September 20. No under 15s.

Born in the RSA celebrates theatre legend, Barney Simon, the man behind this historic and important play.

By fusing and interconnecting monologues and stories, the riveting drama lays bare a slice of everyday South Africa and its people during the state of emergency at the height of apartheid.

The interwoven testimonies of the seven characters, including a teacher, a housewife, a lawyer, an activist and a police spy, is brought into focus as they uncover the dangers of the oppressive system of government at the time.

The play can be seen in the Grindrod Bank Theatre at 11.30 am on September 19 and 1 pm on September 20.

James Cairns stars in El Blanco. Photo: Cue PIx

James Cairns stars in El Blanco. Photo: Cue PIx

El Blanco Tales of the Mariachi, which is performed by former ‘Maritzburg resident, James Cairns (Dirt, The Three Little Pigs, The Snow Goose) tells the epic tale of El Blanco – The White One.

Written by Gwydion Beynon (The Epicene Butcher), the play was one of only two Gold Standard Bank Ovation Award winners at this year’s National Arts Festival.

Cairns’ trademark mastery of the one-man show, coupled with Beynon’s gripping, unpredictable and hilarious text, make for a theatre experience par excellence.
See it in the Memorial Hall at 6.30 pm on September 18 and 8 pm on September 19. No under 16s.

Magnet Theatre brings its production, I Turned Away And She Was Gone, a captivating reworking of the Demeter and Persephone story to this year’s festival.

Written and performed by theatre legend Jennie Reznek and directed by Mark Fleishman, the play reviews the relationships between the three incarnations of women: a mother, a daughter and grandmother, and the passage of our past, present and future selves.

See it in the Memorial Hall at 10 am on September 19 and 20. No under 13s.

Craig Morris in Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny.

Craig Morris in Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny.

If you missed Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny at the Hexagon Theatre, then catch this National Arts Festival Golden Ovation Award winner at Hilton. Greig Coetzee’s SA classic is performed by Craig Morris and directed by Roslyn Wood-Morris with original music by the late Syd Kitchen.

Where does Johnny Boskak fit in the new SA? Is he a white trash dinosaur? Or is he the last cowboy hero in boots and blue jeans? What we know is that he’s on the road looking for love, redemption, an AK47 and the quickest way out of Secunda …

The play can be seen in the Memorial Hall at 5.30 pm on September 19 and 12.30 pm on September 20. No under 13s.

Siembamba, presented by the Rust Co-Operative, is the poignant and pointed story about the bond between a domestic worker and the child she raised in a typical South African home in the late 1980s.

Siembamba won a 2014 Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival, and performed at the 2014 Amsterdam Fringe Festival where it received an Honourable Mention and runner-up position for Best International Production.

The play is being staged in the Memorial Hall at 12.30 pm on September 19 and 2.30 pm on September 20.

The Hilton Arts Festival runs at Hilton College from September 17 to 20. To book for all these shows log onto http://www.hiltonfestival.co.za