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Saturday, April 4, 2015


(Sipho Mahlatshana as Sol T Plaatje & David Dukas as Cecil John Rhodes)

From April 8, the Auto and General Theatre on the Square in Johannesburg hosts a three week season of Duncan Buwalda’s acclaimed historical comedy-drama Hinterland.

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. The play 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. Hinterland returned to Grahamstown last year with another successful season on the Fringe.

The play, which has been published by Junket Publishers, 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 - and 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.

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. Amazingly, David 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 was most recently seen in the SAFTA award-winning mockumentary Armed Response.

Jeremy Richard (Red) appears in Hinterland as Lt 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 Doctor Thomas Smartt, Rhodes’s personal physician. Frank was most recently seen in Durban 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. With extensive experience in all aspects of the performing arts, Caroline Smart is the recipient of four lifetime achievement awards, including one from The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards Panel.

Recent protest action by UCT students over a statue of Rhodes at the university has proven in dramatic fashion that Rhodes and his legacy are still hot topics in the South Africa of 2015. Come to Sandton to see him and another iconic South African as they were: flesh and blood men with dreams and differences, doing what they thought was best for the country.

Hinterland runs at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square from April 8 to 25 with performances from Tuesday to Friday at 20h15 and on Saturdays at 18h00 and 20h30. Bookings can be made by calling the theatre on 011 883-8606, Strictly Tickets on 082 553 5901 or book online:
Enquire about group discounts and dinner show packages.

Hinterland acknowledges the highly-valued support of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT).