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Opening soon: An Audience With Miss Hobhouse

Emily Hobhouse

 

Tony Jackman’s new play An Audience With Miss Hobhouse opens at the Intimate theatre on the UCT Hiddingh campus off Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town on Tuesday September 11 at 8pm. There are nightly 8pm performances until Saturday 15, and a matinee on Sunday 16 at 2pm. Booking: www.webtickets.co.za

Tony Jackman’s new play, a one-hander about the legendary campaigner for the Boer victims of the British during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, Emily Hobhouse, comes to the Intimate Theatre for a brief run after its highly successful debut at the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival in Cradock over the Women’s Day weekend in early August.

The play, which was met with a standing ovation at its premiere performance in Cradock, is the third written by Tony Jackman and the first of his works to go into a full-scale production.

Directed by Christopher Weare, it features Lynita Crofford as Emily Hobhouse and as a Boer woman, Tant’ Alie Badenhorst, as well as a handful of cameo appearances by war correspondents, key players in the war and privates in the British Army.

See the Facebook page at facebook.com/AnAudienceWithMissHobhouse

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Book at webtickets.co.za

Tickets R80, concessions (students and pensioners) R65

ABOUT THE PLAY

An Audience with Miss Hobhouse delves into the world of Emily Hobhouse, who devoted a good part of her adult years to bringing the plight of Boer women and children to the attention of her British fellow countrymen. It is a one-act play in which the actor plays both Hobhouse – in her later years – and a Boer woman, Tant Alie, who was a genuine victim of the British actions against the Boers in their concentration camps, and whose memoir Hobhouse translated into English some years after the end of the war. A handful of bit players also come on stage – troops, war correspondents and the like – as Miss Hobhouse, supposedly addressing a West End of London theatre audience in her last years, reflects on her role in the conflict, and her only partially successful efforts to make the British public understand how badly the plan by Lord Roberts and later Lord Kitchener to bring the Boers to heel by incarcerating their women and children had gone awry. This production sees Lynita Crofford in the dual roles, directed by Christopher Weare. The play was first performed at the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival in Cradock, Eastern Cape, where the premiere performance was greeted with a standing ovation.

EMILY HOBHOUSE

A Cornishwoman from a very well-heeled and politically well-connected family – she knew Lloyd George who was to become a great Liberal Prime Minister of Britain – Emily Hobhouse was born in 1860 as a clergyman’s daughter who was never going to be subservient, woman or not. One thwarted love affair tossed her across the Atlantic to Virginia where she lived in a frontier town and nearly married a man who became mayor and then showed feet of clay. Back in England in the late 1890s she found a country heading towards war with the Boers in South Africa, thanks in no small part to the machinations of Sir Alfred Milner, High Commissioner at the Cape. When she got wind of the treatment of Boer women and children by her fellow countrymen she set about campaigning for an end to the war, and decided to visit the Cape colony to get a firsthand account of events. The number of concentration camps that had been set up by Lord Roberts and later Kitchener shocked her, and she cajoled Milner into allowing her to visit some of the camps. Her investigations led to her informing her own nation of the extent of British cruelty towards the Boers, but the road to informing them was a rocky one. Her efforts on behalf of the Boers dominated much of her later years, although she also played an angel’s role in the Great War of 1914-1918. She died in 1926 having had no due recognition from Britain for a role that by rights should have seen her end her life as Dame Emily Hobhouse. This, as the play makes clear, was not to be.

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