Art Festival numbers up

2009-09-21 00:00

THE number of people visiting this year’s The Witness Hilton Arts Festival is up from last year.

Organiser Sue Clarence said that by Thursday evening last week some 79% of tickets on the main festival had been sold, along with 70% of those for shows on the fringe.

“I’m ecstatic. We don’t have final figures yet, but last year 74% of tickets were sold overall and we’ll definitely be up on that,” she added.

Many of the nearly 50 shows were completely sold out, including this year’s flagship production, Noises Off, which marks the first time the festival has co-produced a play.

Co-producers, KickStArt Theatre Productions, were thrilled with the success of the project and with the response of audience to the farce and their other festival production, Wit, which was another sell-out.

This year’s event also saw the world premiere of Rob van Vuuren and Mary Martin’s show, Strictly Rob and Mary, which will go on a national tour next year; and the performance of Carnival Under the Rainbow — a development street theatre project using a talented cast of performers from the Hilton College estate.

It’s been 17 years since Sue Clarence and Geoff Thompson first came up with a plan to host a theatre festival in KwaZulu-Natal and it’s come a long way since then.

Speaking at the opening of festival, Witness editor, John Conyngham, said: “The festival has an important role to play nowadays, especially as The Playhouse no longer draws great theatre to the province. This festival does and we need to remember the unique status this festival has.”

His words were echoed by Steven Stead, director of Noises Off and Wit, who said: “This weekend allows us to see works from far-flung places like Cape Town and Jo’burg.

“We are given a yardstick to assess our activities and no longer work in a vacuum. Without this festival we would all be poorer.”

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