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Sunday, August 11, 2019


(“Brutal Legacy” features Jessie Wolhuter, Charlie Bougenon & Natasha Sutherland)

Rooted in spoken word performance, The Hilton Arts Festival taking place from September 13 until 15, 2019, is perhaps best known for its carefully-curated selection of quality plays, and, true to form, offers a great line-up of topical dramas this year.

‘I want you to behave like our house is on fire. Because it is,’ so said Scandanavian Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old climate activist, just a few months ago.

Climate change and how the planet addresses it, is an issue close to the heart of the youth. The Hilton Festival is proud to host Well Worn Theatre, a young, dynamic theatre company devoted to environmental theatre. Their work appeals to young and old alike and is inventive and packs a punch.

Under the overall creative genius of Kyla Davies they will present three works, both as part of the Jongosi programme and on the Saturday of the festival. Burning Rebellion takes a close look at exactly what Thunberg is championing. From the next generation, the plea is simple: Governments! Politicians! Big business! Grown-ups! Let’s fix this mess. Before it is too late.  Galela is the thirst-quenching story of a small community deeply affected by South Africa’s water issues, while Plastocracy looks at the mountains of plastic being created by mankind. Particularly well-suited to the young, this piece features an endearing puppet. Tissues are advised.

The issues of abuse, bullying and women’s rights are also currently topical and are constantly engaged with by the younger generation.   Hilton proudly presents Evil, Brutal Legacy and Sainthood. “We are hoping to create intense and meaningful conversations,” says Sue Clarence, the Festival Director.

(Right: “Evil” features the award-winning Jaques de Silva)

Evil is the chilling real-life account of the teenage years of Erik Ponti. A victim of an abusive stepfather and drawn to petty crime, he is sent to an elite boarding school where institutionalised bullying is the currency of a violent student council.   It features the award-winning Jaques de Silva in a riveting solo performance hot from the Edinburgh Festival.

Brutal Legacy is based on Tracy Going’s recently published story of survival and triumph over abuse and adversity. When South Africa's golden girl of broadcasting, Tracy Going's battered face was splashed across the media back in the late 1990s, the nation was shocked. Sensational headlines of a whirlwind love relationship turned horrendously violent, it threw the "perfect" life of the household star into disarray. What had started off as a fairy-tale romance with her perfect Prince Charming, quickly descended into a violent, abusive relationship. The rosy love-cloud burst after only five months when she staggered into the local police station, abused and bruised. Starring Natasha Sutherland with Charlie Bougenon and Jessie Wolhuter.

(Left: The cast of “Sainthood” – pic by Jeremeo Le Cordeur)

Making waves as a young new theatre creator is Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni.  She is the imagination and talent behind Sainthood, hailed as a breakthrough by a new generation of dynamic theatre makers and playwrights.

It is a busy week for the students of St. Gabriel’s School for Boys. With exam preparations underway and open day coming up, matric boarding house mates, Tebogo, Zwi, Will, Siya and George are … well … a little more pre-occupied than usual, especially when five friends find themselves in the centre of a serious investigation that not only threatens to unravel the tragic intricacies of the St. Gabriel's community but what little is left of their innocence.

The youth is sending a message to the older generations. The Festival management hopes all ages will book to see these important works and then talk about them. Theatre should inspire conversation. Let’s talk and act!

For details of all of the above, please refer to the website for details after August 11, 2019. The Hilton Arts Festival, now in its 27th takes place from September 13 to 15, 2019.

The full programme will appear in KZN copies of The Sunday Times on Sunday August 18. Booking opens on August 12, and the programme will be live on the festival website from the morning of August 12.

For more information, visit or contact the Festival Office on or 033 383 0127.

The Hilton Arts Festival is presented by Hilton College and tiso blackstar group, in association with  Grindrod Bank; Black Coffee; Extreme Events; DWR; Bidvest Car Rental; FNB, Stella Artois; BASA; the KZN Department of Arts and Culture; Tsogo Sun; Redlands Hotel; the Caxton Group; Maritzburg Sun; Loud Crowd Media, The SA Artist and Sappi.