Greg Latter’s drama is about a disintegrating white academic family in Grahamstown. Death of a Colonialist tells the story of Harold Smith, an aging, eccentric, unpredictable but extremely passionate history teacher at a high school in Grahamstown. His passion is South African history, most specifically the history of the amaXhosa. Harold is at the end of his powers and his increasingly erratic teaching techniques are making the school’s hierarchy look for some new blood in the history department. He is aware of the moves against him but believes his passionate teaching will always win the day.
What Harold is not aware of is that his wife has terminal cancer and has decided not to tell him. His two children, who have moved overseas, decide to come home for an unconventional family reunion. Some hard truths await Harold, who is so wrapped up in his own life and his passion for history that he is unaware of the personal tragedy unfolding in his own life. Dealing with questions of identity, history and terminal illness, this is a funny, sad, profound and passionate play that weaves between the tragedy of our past and the challenges of our present. Ultimately, Latter’s play reinforces what it means to be South African.
The strength of the script has attracted a great production team, headed up by film, television and theatre director Craig Freimond (Gums & Noses, Sorted), fresh from finishing his second film Jozi. Actor Jamie Bartlett who won the 2010 Naledi Award for Best Performance by an actor in a Lead Role, star of the small and big screen, returns to the theatre after spending the last few years creating one of South Africa’s most memorable villains in ETV’s Rhythm City – David Genaro. Joining him from Cape Town is veteran actress Shirley Johnston, Carl Beukes and Ashleigh Harvey.