Weekend extravaganza

2008-09-04 00:00

SINCE the early days when everything at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival took place in the theatre, 16 years of growth have seen the activities branching out into shows for the kids, all kinds of music from classical to cabaret to bands, talks, workshops — and even a chance to learn to cha-cha. Whatever it is that blows your hair back, it will be at Hilton from September 12 to September 14. And for the time between shows, there is always the craft market, places to eat and buskers and other musicians to listen to.

• Cabaret and music shows include Peter Court’s two daughters, Valentine and Sammy Sterling-Court celebrating songs created for young voices in Broadway’s Babies, while Lisa Bobbert and Anthony Stonier, along with Andrew Warburton, revive their huge hit revue, Brutal Tunes. Stonier is back again, this time with Carol Trench and Evan Roberts in Chanson, a celebration of French song. And on Friday evening, thre is a special treat when local band Plush perform in the sports centre.

• Guitar legend Nibs van der Spuy makes his first visit to the festival with a Saturday afternoon concert and a guitar workshop, while coming back for the second time are Danish-English couple Mia Theil Have and Max Webster with Hungry Tigers — classical music and pop as you have never heard, or seen, them before. Singer Rory McLaren presents two performances — Robbin’ the Buble in which he pays tribute to Robbie Williams and Michael Buble, and Taking them Off where he turns his attention to other superstars, including Elvis, Freddie Mercury, Ricky Martin and Chris de Burgh.

• While the grown-ups are doing their festival thing, the kids are catered for with Betti and the Yetti from the Ubom! Company in the Eastern Cape and Faces of Africa, which tells stories of the creatures of the veld.

• There are a variety of workshops for all ages as well — ranging from beading and making Christmas presents to dance, drumming, theatre directing, bread making, floral art and making a hardcover book with pop-out pages.

• “The Talks” section of the programme offers poetry, a panel discussion on short story writing and the always popular Mike Lambert discussing xenophobia — as seen in ancient Greek theatre and in modern society.

• A first for the festival this year is a collaboration with the National Arts Festival in the Hands On! Masks Off! Project. This is the first regional programme, following the launch in Grahamstown, and aims to build the business skills of arts practitioners to increase the financial viability of what they do. All performers, managers and media and business people interesting in getting involved in arts projects are invited to attend — contact Ismail at 083 235 8440 or ismail@nationalartsfestival.co.za

• And finally, the visual art component of the festival looks good this year with a retrospective exhibition of work by Normand Dunn in the theatre foyer. Dunn set up the art department at Hilton, and spent 30 years at the school. During that time he was a columnist and cartoonist for The Witness. The exhibition is curated by Christopher Till. There will be other exhibitions, in the art school and the history room.

• Programmes and booking kits for all shows and activities at the festival are available at all major Spar outlets in KwaZulu-Natal; Exclusive Books at Midlands Mall and the Pavilion; Bookworld at Cascades; Adams Books at Durban’s Musgrave Centre; The Witness office; the Hilton College theatre and at www.artslink.co.za/hilton.

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