Rainbow carnival

2009-09-17 00:00

VISITORS to this year’s The Witness Hilton Arts Festival are in for a treat. Stiltwalkers, drummers, singers and dancers are set to present a colourful street theatre pageant, Carnival Under The Rainbow, on Saturday and Sunday.

All the performers come from the Hilton College estate and have been working with United Kingdom-based duo, Max Webster and Mia Theil Have, to stage the spectacle.

It is the second time that the pair has worked on a development project at the festival. Last year they staged the National Lottery Board (NLB) funded production, Feast Kakhula, with the help of actors Ellis Pearson and Sdumo Mtshali.

“Feast Kakhula worked very well last year, people enjoyed it, but it was quite a small piece, so we thought it would be great to make young people more visible this year, and what could be more visible than big, bright costumes and people on stilts, singing and dancing?” Webster added.

Having been lucky enough to see the cast in rehearsal at Hilton College and at their dress rehearsal at Hilton’s Quarry Centre last weekend, I can say with conviction that the production, which is again being funded by NLB money, is a colourful treat.

So, what’s it all about? Carnival ­Under The Rainbow is a simple fantasy tale about a group of people looking for a missing rainbow. Along the way they make wishes at a wishing well, watch a couple getting married and even manage to defeat death.

To create the piece, Webster and Theil Have, who have both been involved in street theatre overseas, have built on the cast’s natural singing and dancing ability, and say it’s been interesting to see how people ­react to the stiltwalkers.

“When you do something with such skill, it makes people view you differently. When you’re up on stilts there is an immediate wow factor,” Webster added.

The pair has also been impressed by the group’s commitment to the project. They have been coming to Hilton College after school and working hours to practise for the past six weeks.

“It’s been a very moving and very interesting experience,” Webster said. “We usually work with professional actors, but theatre is about meeting people and how would I get to know people, such as these youngsters, otherwise?”

Carnival Under The Rainbow will be performed at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday at noon and 2 pm, both days. The street theatre starts at the Centenary Centre and then moves around the craft market and other venues on the school grounds. Admission is free.

• Max Webster and Mia Theil Have are also working together on the one-woman show, Longing for Darkness, which is based on the life and stories of Danish writer Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. See this festival show at the Old Museum tomorrow at 6 pm and Saturday at 7 pm. Tickets R70 from 033 383 0126.

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