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Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Sipho Mahlatshana (Sol Plaatje), David Dukas (Cecil John Rhodes), 
Frank Graham (Dr Smartt) & Jeremy Richard (Lt Col Kekewich
(Pic by Philip Kuhn)

Delightful and thought-provoking piece cleverly engages our minds by restructuring our history. (Review by Sifiso Sikhakhane)

Hinterland - Where Rhodes meets Plaatje – comprises a stellar cast of Sipho Mahlatshana (Sol Plaatje), David Dukas (Cecil John Rhodes), Frank Graham (Dr Smartt) and Jeremy Richard (Lieutenant Col Kekewich), under the plausible direction by Caroline Smart. The production has just completed its Johannesburg run at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in Sandton.

Written by Duncan Buwalda, winner of three awards from the PANSA/NLDTF Festival, the production could not be more relevant to what is currently taking shape in our country regarding imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, even though Buwalda wrote this delightful and thought-provoking piece of work seven years ago.

Hinterland speaks of the meeting of Rhodes with founding member and first General Secretary of the African National Congress, Sol Plaatje - something which never happened but is a great pleasure to imagine: what if both these significant historical figures met?

Buwalda cleverly engages our minds by restructuring our history and affording us the opportunity to question our South Africa - then and now.

I do however need to criticize the misinterpretation of Plaatje in the play in certain occasions, such as his supposed meeting with Rhodes. Immediately, the character assumes the stereotypical status of a black man then (and probably now) in their encounter with a white figure by being instructed to serve tea. As an intellect and someone who had been hired as a writer, their first encounter could have been an opportunity to exploit areas that challenges both their great minds rather than falling into the obvious. However, this does not mean this was the writer’s or the director's intention. It is something I would have personally preferred to have been done differently.

The production highlights the history of our politics and racism which was happening at the time as well as giving us a different interpretation of Sir Cecil John Rhodes whilst also reminding us of his great wealth.

I am certainly hoping the production will have another life after its successful run at Auto & General Theatre on the Square, especially considering Rhodes’ statue having fallen just recently at UCT.

I must also complement the director as a strong and perfect blend of energies was felt among the actors. – Sifiso Sikhakhane
The production was presented in association with the Auto & General Theatre on the Square and supported by the Arts & Culture Trust.