Hilton Arts Fest ends on a high

2011-09-19 00:00

THIS year’s The Witness Hilton Arts Festival was buzzing from the moment more than a thousand pupils descended on the Hilton College campus for the youth festival, Jongosi, on Friday.

And despite some concerns about possible protests over the inclusion of three Israeli plays – The Timekeepers, My First Sony and Volunteer Man – on the programme, the increased security proved unnecessary and the three-day event went off with barely a hitch.

Speaking to the audience after their final performance, Roy Horowitz, said the Israeli company was grateful to audiences for attending their shows and to Sue Clarence, the festival director, for bringing them to the festival. He added that politics should never be allowed to influence the arts.

With no protests to worry about the biggest headache for the organisers proved to be unexpected traffic jams early on Saturday and yesterday morning, which delayed the start of some shows.

Several of this year’s productions were sold out, including the award-winning London Road, KickStArt Theatre Company’s God of Carnage and Pietermaritzburg-based actress Mandisa Haarhoff’s one-woman show, Crush Hopper.

Other shows enjoyed near sell-out status, including a 2.30 pm performance of The Compleat (corr) Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) by Mark Kay, Adam Dore and Clinton Small on Saturday. The three stepped in at the last moment to replace Iain “Ewok” Robinson’s performance of Rapped in Truth, which the slam poet and hip-hop artist withdrew in protest at the inclusion of the Israeli plays.

Although figures have yet to be finalised, the organisers are reporting sales of around 76% on the main programme and 95% on Jongosi. No figures were available for the fringe at the time of going to press.

Clarence said she is delighted with the success of the festival and thanked the production companies, audiences and the people of KwaZulu-Natal for their support. “I also want to give everyone a heads-up that next year’s festival is jumping a week so that we can take advantage of the public holiday. The festival will run from September 22 to 25,” she added.

The SAB tent, with its free live music, proved to be another big drawcard, both for those taking a break from the live music, theatre, lectures and workshops on offer, and for those who simply wanted to soak up the festival vibe. Most arts and crafts stalls reported good sales, and sellers of cooldrinks and ice cream benefited most from the hot weekend.

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