DIANE DE BEER
ARTISTS: Karin Hougaard (performer, singer, composer and lyricist), Jaconell Mouton (keyboard and piano player)
DIRECTOR: Mari Borstlap
VENUE: Atterbury Theatre at Lynnwood Bridge
DATE: May 27
I wasn’t really thinking of writing anything about the show simply because it was a one-off performance and apart from the seasons previously performed at the recent Woordfees and Klein Karoo Arts Festival, this was the last one to be showcased locally.
But, Karin Hougaard is such an exceptional performer, it felt wrong to ignore this production which was such a joy to experience while witnessing the exuberant evolution of a true artist.
The genre or niche – Afrikaans music – she performs in has been restrictive for many because like in so many art forms, once the public latches onto your persona, they’re not too happy if you change. But what happens to an artist with those kinds of restrictions? It’s almost like a kind of self-censorship kicks into action and a performer’s vision becomes stagnant after a while. That’s one example.
Being an artist even in today’s challenging economical landscape is all about taking risks and that is what Hougaard exemplifies and why she is so exciting to watch. It’s not an easy thing and once you have hit the marks, it is often more comfortable just to stick to what you – and they – know. But not for Hougaard, fortunately. And she benefits as an artist while also nourishing the longevity of her career because one must see growth at some point. Even the most ardent fan needs some kind of movement.
She’s a dramatic artist, as much an actor as a singer, so what she gives you with each song, is an interpretation with her whole body and soul. It’s overwhelming and quite marvelous to witness.
It’s also extraordinary to experience someone who seems so comfortable in her own skin that it’s almost easy for her to share her life and where she’s at in this present time. The distance – with her move to the US a few years back – might also give her the space to make these brave choices. But then she’s always been an artist who takes those leaps of faith.
It is where she finds herself now, the issues she grapples with, the songs including the much loved but well-worn Me Quitte Pas, Vlakkeland and Padam which she makes imaginatively
her own, but also her own compositions and poetry, in writing and in song, that cover so much in so many different genres.
With a performance that’s as compelling as it is compulsive, she has cleverly chosen Jaconell Mouton as her accompanist, someone who stands as her equal and adds further to the depth of the performance. The way they interlink and keep the narrative flowing without missing a beat – on piano or in song. The way the music is varied, beats different rhythms, tells stories as intimate or as global as the topic demands, all of that turns this into a show all about emotions.
It is sad that even though the language is used magnificently, it also prohibits many from understanding and thus attending. She is an artist that would appeal far more widely if people only knew.
And if all this sounds just too much, it is the simplicity of the presentation yet done with so much artistic integrity that it so captures the imagination and transports you to so many different worlds, spaces and places. With backdrop and multimedia to enhance the imagination, our barefoot diva is fully present with her audience as she steps into each song, each poetic conversation, never going off script and yet, establishing a narrative that is heartfelt and music that embraces completely.
It was a magnificent encounter.