Festival programme for youth

Moving into Dance’s Oscar Buthelezi during a Jongosi Festival event last year at the Hilton Arts Festival. Picture by Jonathan Burton

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KEEPING arts alive for future generations, the Hilton Arts Festival, held annually at Hilton College each September, is working proactively to introduce young people to the wonders of live performance.

To this end, it offers a Jongosi Festival youth component as part of the main festival – and this year invites schools to attend the eighth event.

Teachers are invited to save the date if they would like pupils, in particular those in drama, music or dance classes, to experience the best of live performances on offer in the country.

The Jongosi Festival, embedded in the main festival, takes place on Friday, September 15, and has an age-appropriate programme aimed at pupils in Grades 6 to 10.

“The day is structured to ensure learners will be fully occupied attending a variety of fabulous, innovative theatre. The aim is to instil a love of the performing arts, and to provide enjoyment and to stimulate thought and discussion,” says festival director, Sue Clarence.

A carefully considered lineup has been curated to form the Jongosi programme.  The final schedule is not yet finalised, but some key elements are in place.

For younger audiences, those in Grades 6 to  9, highlights will include the boisterous,fun Raiders of the Caribbean, by former Playhouse head of drama, Nicholas Ellenbogen, now based in Cape Town, and his Theatre for Africa.

James Cairns in El Blanco, from an earlier Hilton Arts Festival. He will appear at this year’s festival in The Devil and Billy Markham and The Old Man and the Sea.

Billed as a swashbuckling musical set in the Caribbean, the show invites audiences to join Lucious Lola and Jude the Cruel in a quest for the Jewel of the Caribbean treasure.

After Dark in the Groot Marico is also of notea two-hander created by Tara Notcutt which reconsiders and enlivens some of the favourite Oom Schalk Lourens stories by master storyteller, Herman Charles Bosman.

Making Mandela, also on the Jongosi Festival bill, is an innovative story by Jenine Collocott, an acclaimed member of the team that created the former festival hit, The Snow Goose.

Also on the programme is the new, captivating production, Making Mandela, telling the story of what influenced the rural boy to become a global legend. The production is said to be an imaginative journey through the childhood of Mandela, featuring colourful characters, vividly portrayed in masks, with physical performances supported by emotive sound and theatrical styling.

For slightly older pupils, in Grades 10 to 12, the Jongosi Festival has a wide variety of options available, including The Baxter’s Karoo Moose which chronicles the story of a young girl named Thomaza. She lives in an isolated village in the Karoo region, and ends up killing a moose.

Said to be strange, enchanting and definitely different, Karoo Moose is devised by Baxter chief executive officer  and multi-awarded playwright, Lara Foot.

Also headed for the Jongosi Festival is Mamba Republic, a rapid-paced satirical sketch-comedy which reunites the talents of Ben Voss (Beauty Ramapelepele) and John van de Ruit (author of the Spud novels). Mamba Republic takes a savagely funny look at all that is wrong and very wrong in the Rainbow Nation.

Also on the cards will be a standup comedy show specifically designed for a youthful audience. Details for this are still strictly under wraps.

From closer to home comes Greig Coetzee’s much-loved, delightful, melancholic and quirky solo piece, The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy. It is produced by Peter Mitchell from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus and features Francis Mennigke, a graduate of Rhodes University and a masters student at UKZN.

The makers of Snow Goose, James Cairns and Taryn Bennett, will star in the production of the Ernest Hemingway classic, The Old Man and The Sea. The story recounts the perils of a fisherman Santiago on his voyage to break 84 days without a catch.

For matric pupils, James Cairns (who starred in El Blanco last year) will also be presenting The Devil and Billy Markham – a rambling poem of epic proportions by Shel Silverstein. Billy Markham is an out-of-work blues singer. A boozer and loser, he is in a bar one evening whenhe is challenged to a game of dice by Satan.

Over and above the productions at the Jongosi Festival,  a wide variety of free, arts-related workshops, exhibitions and interactive engagement opportunities will be available to explore between shows.

Any schools interested in booking should contact the festival office at festival@hiltoncollege.com or phone (033) 383 0127.

The full schedule and bookings will be finalised by the end of July. For more information, visit www.hiltonfestival.co.za.
The festival would not be possible without the generous support of Hilton College, Times Media Group, Grindrod Bank, Black Coffee, DWR, PWC,  Bidvest Car Rental, Indwe Risk Services, Assitej South Africa, Loud Crowd, Sappi, Redlands Hotel, Zultrans, KZN Dept of Arts & Culture, BASA, Castle Lite, Maritzburg Sun and Caxton.


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