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Saturday, May 31, 2014


(Sipho Mahlatshana & David Dukas)

This July, the National Arts Festival Fringe Programme features the return of Duncan Buwalda’s acclaimed historical comedy-drama Hinterland. The play is about the (fictional) meeting of two giants of South African history.

More than 100 years after his death, Cecil John Rhodes still enjoys fame (or notoriety) as Southern Africa’s arch-imperialist, while the multi-talented man of letters, Sol Plaatje, was one of the ANC’s founding fathers in 1912.

The plot of Hinterland has the two men – Rhodes and Plaatje – meet while Kimberley is besieged during the Anglo-Boer War. In the autumn of his life, Rhodes, the “King of Diamonds”, hires the young Plaatje as his new secretary, and the two develop the unlikeliest of friendships, full of humour, warmth and pathos. But the country is changing and, as Plaatje’s political career begins to dawn, the two men become set on a collision course which will change their lives.

In 2012 Hinterland was selected for the finals of the PANSA\NLDTF Festival of the Reading of New Writing in Durban. Veteran director Caroline Smart took the helm, and the staged reading won three awards: Runner-up, Audience Choice and Best Director.

Hinterland was selected for the Arena Programme of the 2013 National Arts Festival – one of only two South African plays to make the cut – and enjoyed a successful run. Now the production returns to Grahamstown on the Fringe with a new cast, and the same award-winning director. With extensive experience in all aspects of the performing arts, Smart is the recipient of four lifetime achievement awards, including one from The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards.

Cecil John Rhodes is played by David Dukas, who was most recently seen in Grahamstown as Sir George Grey in Ingrid Wylde’s Princess Emma in 2012. Interestingly, Dukas can claim an ancestor – Pieter Raaff – who knew Cecil Rhodes in the years of Rhodesia’s infancy. The role of Sol Plaatje is played by rising star Sipho Mahlatshana, who recently appeared in the SAFTA award-winning mockumentary Armed Response.

The co-creator of Armed Response, Greg Parvess, also appears in Hinterland as Colonel Robert Kekewich, the garrison commander of Kimberley who ends up locking horns with the strong-willed Rhodes. The cast is completed by veteran Durban-based actor Frank Graham, as Rhodes’s personal physician, Doctor Thomas Smartt. He appeared in the Playhouse Company’s production of West Side Story last Christmas.

Duncan Buwalda’s 2011 Grahamstown debut, Dream, Brother, directed by Tara Notcutt, won the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award for Drama and enjoyed a successful return season to Grahamstown in 2012.

Hinterland will run at the NG Kerk in Grahamstown from July 3 to 8. It will have a season at Johannesburg’s Theatre on the Square early in 2015. Performance dates and times: July 3 at 14h00; July 4 at 16h00; July 5 at 12h00 and 18h30; July 6 at 14h00; July 7 at 22h00 and July 8 at 16h00.

Acclaim for Hinterland: - “A thinking person’s drama” – Keith Millar (; “Very funny, highly thought provoking” –Professor Brian Willan (Sol Plaatje Scholar), and -“Informative, educational, and entertaining, and deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.” –Clinton Marius (PANSA judge)

Hinterland gratefully acknowledges the support of Stable Theatre. For more information contact Caroline Smart on 082 892 23959 or email