Fascinating story of two SA icons

[caption id="attachment_38753" align="alignright" width="300"] WHAT IF? David Dukas, left, and Sipho Mahlatshana in 'Hinterland' which is being staged at the National Arts Festival[/caption]

IN AN acclaimed rewriting of history, a play in which Cecil John Rhodes hires Sol Plaatje as his secretary during the siege of Kimberley – and falls in love with him – is being staged at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from Thursday.

Winner of three awards at the 2012 Pansa/NLDTF Playwriting Festival and part of last year's official selection for the National Art Festival Arena Programme, Hinterland is written and produced by Cape Town writer Duncan Buwalda.

Supported by Stable Theatre and directed by Caroline Smart, this fascinating drama deals with a "what if" situation should Rhodes and Plaatje have met and worked together.

The leading roles are played by Gauteng actors David Dukas and Sipho Mahlatshana, with Cape Town actor Greg Parvess playing Colonel Kekewich. Well-known Durban actor Frank Graham plays Dr Smartt, Rhodes's personal physician.

"This is the third time I have directed Hinterland," director Smart said.

"Duncan is a very skilled writer and I admire his command of dramatic text.

"He's taken a 'what if'? situation connecting two major figures in South Africa's history and infused it with humour – some of it wry, some of it hilarious – all the while sticking to correct historical information," Smart said.

"All the characters were real people. Listening to audience members leaving the theatre, the comments revolve around the fact that they can't believe what they've just seen wasn't entirely true!"

Hinterland can be seen in the NG Kerk Hall on Thursday at 2pm, Friday at 4pm, Saturday 5 at 12 noon and 6.30pm, Sunday at 2pm, Monday at 10pm and Tuesday at 4pm. Tickets are R60 and R50 with the first performance free.