Meeting up with two of the four primary participants inthe South African Pavilion of the Biennale Architectura 2023 in Venice, it quickly becomes clear that it takes a village to raise a pavilion, as the pamphlet specially designed for visitors acknowledges. DIANE DE BEER talks to lecturer Stephen Steyn with Carla Spies (who is responsible for co-ordinating the whole project) about this year’s architectural adventure:

When the core group of Carla Spies (Spies Architects), Stephen Steyn (lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design at TUT), Dr Sechaba Maape (senior lecturer at the Wits School of Architecture and Planning) and Dr Emmanuel Nkambule (senior lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design at TUT) got together, they played with the idea that we live in a unique country and that being in this place affects how we live.

That is where they wanted their focus to be and what they hoped to visually explore and exhibit at the Biennale.

All in the field of architecture, their interest and research were aligned, which meant that each one brought something specific to the project.

Digital visuals as part of the South African Pavilion.

Stephen explains that we identify with things, creatures, ideas and, most significantly, other people. Identities, which are what drive this project, like walls, contain, convene and comfort us, but should they be too solid and too insistent, they imprison us. “It is something that defines you,” he explains, “but it shouldn’t be seen as just one thing.”

Between the abstract binary poles of ‘freedom’ and ‘containment’ there is architecture. By using our imaginations, we choose how we identify as active, conscious agents. He argues that while a space might define its occupants, it shouldn’t confine them.

Before the ‘primitive hut’, in fact, before the wall itself was conceived of as a construction, the natural world had supplied us with the architecture of the cave. The cave wall is simultaneously a containing element, and a surface of representation. Beyond this wall exists another world – intimately connected to our own, but with its own logics and forces.

The hanging ropes starting to take shape. The group from Kent&Lane who fastened the ropes to the tiles for the eventual hanging.

The future is unknown. From that darkness, full of both fears and hopes, architects pull images which, like self-fulfilling prophecies, become the future itself through construction.

 It is not fail proof; like any prophecy, it remains vague no matter how clearly articulated. And it is always subject to the influence of enormously varied and powerful forces as it travels from the world beyond the surface of representation – where the future and the past co-mingle – to our own.

And part of their quest was to reach out to the pre-colonial past, into the present post-colonial era to determine the future. Histories are alive and should constantly be revised, because so much has not been recorded in traditional ways.

The main pavilion structure (designed by Stephen and realised by Carla with the help of many others), invites visitors to a ritual performance of collective identification, community formation and initiation.

Then the exhibition unfolds and reveals itself  through three zones.

Zone I is titled The Past Is the Laboratory of the Future, and traces historical links to the architectural representation of social structures as documented in pre-colonial southern-African societies.

Scattered over 10 000 square kilometres of grassland in Mpumalanga lie the ruins of a vast civilization known as the Bokoni. The architecture of the Bokoni consisted primarily of two materials: permanent, dry-stacked stone, and ephemeral, hand-woven grass.

Rather than captured in books, the social structures (how they lived and functioned) of the Bokoni are preserved in the visible plan forms of their homesteads, and are represented by weaving practices, which can only be inferred from sub cultures still practising grass weaving today. For this element, five individual weavers were brought together to make woven artefacts that serve as scaffolding for another construction; that of a social as well as a professional network, and thus representing a community.

Part of Nkambule’s model which represents a “modern”Bokoni society.

They also found a digital way of showing the enduring solidity of the dry-stacked stone used in the construction of a Bokoni homestead, which can be accessed by a visitor to the pavilion on their smart phone.

This contemporary interpretation of traditional social practices, as they are manifested in spaces and thresholds still being built today, connects our distant history with our present and, through re-interpretation, sets new trajectories for the future.

Zone II is titled The Council of (non-human) Beings, and contains contemporary drawings on the topic of animism in architectural practice.

Here the work of Dr Maape is presented in a space inspired by the caves of Kuruman in South Africa — spaces that are dark and removed from day-to-day life, and primarily used for initiation rituals.

 In this setting, large digital prints of the living landscape, drawings that are themselves set in blackness, emphasise the value of dark and black spaces within the cultural practices of indigenous communities of South Africa.

Initiates are challenged to face their fears by facing the stereotypes of ‘dark/black as evil’, the ‘dark continent’ or ‘black magic’, inverting and exposing the false and sinister narrative of the metaphor of ‘light’ or ‘enlightenment’ in its colonial manifestation.

Part of Nkambule’s model which represents a “modern”Bokoni society.

Combining these influences with the indigenous knowledge of his home, Maape generates works that question the way we see the earth on which we design and build.

He proposes a practice that seeks the council of all beings, human and non-human, in the production of architecture, and suggests that it is in reframing concepts like ‘context’ or ‘site’ that we may be more responsive to our current planetary crises

 Zone III is titled Political Animals, and presents the organizational and curricular structures of South African architecture schools as architectural objects.

They invited students and staff from South African schools of architecture to construct sample representations of the Laboratories of the Future in which they are embedded and of which they are part. The competition format was adjusted to engage with Stephen’s research and curatorial project, resulting in six entries constructed with the assistance of Johannesburg-based ModelArt.

In the process of being transformed.

Most of this has been done in South Africa, because of the rand/euro exchange. Carla flew to Venice this a month ago to start co-ordinating the installation of the pavilion and the rest of the crew involved in the setting up, including the other three core members, followed a week later.

It is a major undertaking, but if one views their narrative (some of which I hopefully captured) with images of what’s to come, the intent and inclusive nature with which the project was put together and run, South Africans should be holding thumbs and be proud  of this young team of architects who have taken our architectural heritage with visions of the future to represent us at the prestigious 18th Biennale Architectura 2023.

 * The 18th International Architecture Exhibition, titled The Laboratory of the Future and curated by Lesley Lokko, will be open from 20 May to 26 November 2023.


Book festivals are becoming more and more popular but if you think they’re easy to curate and organise, think again. You have to think about the where, when and who, what kind of topics you want to present, find a balance between light and weighty, none of which will give you a sure-fire result. Deborah Steinmair from Vrye Weekblad cooked with the right ingredients. DIANE DE BEER was there:

Pictures supplied by Vrye Weekblad

Cullinan was the chosen spot for Vrye Weekblad’s first Gauteng Boekefees following the success of the Cape equivalent in Stilbaai last year. They’re also following with a third one in the Free State’s Clarens in July and there is talk of another one in the Cape. (If you’re interested, follow their social media…)

But this time, book genius Deborah Steinmair was the one who had to get all her ducks in a row. First she found the perfect venue, a church with a large hall, all on one property with parking across the road and in walking distance from where most people would be staying during the weekend.

Architecturally, if that’s your thing, it also had the perfect look. It is a Herbert Baker design after all and that’s what these kinds of towns dotted all across the country offer. Think Dullstroom, Clarens, Tulbach, and more…

And as the visitors started arriving on the Friday afternoon for the editors’ launch Daar’s ‘n Mier in my Broek (There are ants in my pants) with Max du Preez, Anneliese Burgess and Piet Croucamp, it was obvious that the weekend would draw a crowd.

Anneliese Burgess (right) and Piet Croucamp talk SA politics.

Politics in this country is part of our daily bread – especially now – and if you have a few breakaway voices setting the tone, you’re getting it right. But then that’s been a Vrye Weekblad trademark. You had to be there to catch their drift but what really hit the mark for me was the collective decision that we need new ideas not new ideologies.

And then a few pointers. Watch out for distractions. From what did the media turn their gaze when they were so obsessed with the Thabo Bester saga? But there’s good news on that front as well. Who would have known that Parliament could do such a deep dive when investigating Bester’s miraculous escape?

Lientjie Wessels (left) with chicken croquettes and venison and miso bobotie.

This was followed by another Deborah brainwave: asking one of our most inventive chefs, Lientjie Wessels, to host an old-fashioned grand dinner in what was once a diamond town.

The menu and pictures do the talking: from tomato soup with togarashi, to squash hummus, chicken croquettes, roasted beetroot with feta and herb crumbs followed by a venison and miso bobotie with the traditional yellow rice and pear chutney, and concluding with a Persian love cake with lemon caramel.

And if you are wondering, like I did, about togarashi, it is described as a common Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients. It’s one of the things I love about Lientjie’s food, I always learn something. Also, you know that every meal by this creative genius will be something extraordinary, and I’m not exaggerating.

We stayed in the Cullinan Hotel and here I also have to give a plug, I was pleasantly surprised. Nothing fancy, but smartly yet simply renovated furnishings in the rooms turned this into a pleasant stay as well

Dinner by candlelight at the Boekefees.

The next morning kicked off with Renée Rautenbach Conradie’s discussion with author Willemien du Preez on her book described as autofiction, ‘n Plaas se Prys. And what that means is that the story is based on her life but interwoven with fictional elements. The talk was titled Futility farm and the Afrikaner’s farm gene. The drift of the story is a couple following their dream, buying a farm and then finding themselves literally and figuratively overwhelmed by the elements – with dust and flies dominating.

It’s a universal story of broken dreams … and yet she lives to tell the tale and probably another, and another.

A highlight was a collective group of feisty women authors who captured the imagination and the spirit of the book fest.

Borrel, gorrel, smoeg en wroeg (loosely translated à la Shakespeare: boil, bubble, toil and trouble) Women who write can bewitch: including Gerda Taljaard (Vier Vroue), Bettina Wyngaard (Lokval), Renée Rautenbach Conradie (Met die Vierkleur in Parys), Michèle Meyer (Moer), Celeste Theron (her first will be released in the next few months), Emma Bekker (Vel), and Marida Fitzpatrick (Mara).

Deborah took the reins: one needs her kind of wicked humour to get the sharp-tongued talk going and with these more recent than others, but all spending stolen or free time on words.

Asked about feminism, the responses varied from an aversion to labels to Wyngaard’s struggle with the basics. If people aren’t accepted as equal yet, how can we ignore the fight?

Feisty females: Back: Emma Bekker, Gerda Taljaard, Marida Fitzpatrick and Renée Rautenbach Conradie; Centre: Celeste Theron and Bettina Wyngaard; Front: Michèle Meyer and organiser Deborah Steinmair.

Some members of the panel are inspired to write by history, others want to investigate certain questions, yet another talks about fever dreams or even nightmares when awake. There are also those thoughts that burst through from the unconscious just before you nod off and another feels for her, writing is the only way to express herself.

And just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons, Deborah wanted to know whether women write better sex scenes than men.

For Gerda it was simple: The male gaze can be quite technical. Replace that with a woman’s perspective and it’s softer, more subtle.

And then I have to agree with Anneliese Burgess about the deeply serious closing  conversation of the day between editor Max du Preez and writers Johann van Loggerenberg (former head of the investigative unit at SARS) and Pieter du Toit discussing ANC Billionaires and Rogues.

It’s the kind of meaty discussion, “an in-depth analysis about the state of the nation”, is how Burgess describes is, you want to conclude with, even though I sadly had to leave after the cheerful chatter of the female authors.

Sunday suitably swung into a gathering of poets (Johan Myburg, Jolyn Phillips, Kirby van der Merwe, Eunice Basson, Martjie Bosman, Emma Bekker, Johann Lodewyk Marais, Pieter Odendaal and Jaco van der Merwe) who did their reading in the Baker church before a final meal with Frik de Jager whose selected dishes each told its own story.

And just like that, it was all finish and klaar. With the next one just around the corner.

I can’t wait.


Sketches by Dries de Beer

Dealing with bureaucracy is often challenging on any level or front. So when during some of our most stressful times, you happen to bump into individuals who not only do their work well but seem to make the effort to help you as best they can, it changes the nature of how you view the world. Often they aren’t in top positions so they cannot make all the decisions, but they will make sure that the path is smooth for you to achieve whatever you need to get done. DIANE DE BEER highlights some of her personal heroes of the past few months:

My sister who lives   London and left the country in 1975 was back home for a three month visit. One of our first tasks was a visit to Home Affairs with a request for a new South African passport and ID.

I knew that this would be no small ask and was gritting my teeth from the start, but also determined that we would see this through and that there would be a way.

She has American citizenship, but didn’t want to relinquish her South African links. Dual citizenship was also necessary for certain practicalities.

We arrived early at Home Affairs, which I was already familiar with because I have been helping one of my employees, who we discovered to our dismay, doesn’t have any documentation. Yes, he is a South African and has been working for us for a long, long time, but my husband and I were both working all our lives and were unaware that he didn’t have any documentation … don’t ask. I was given a severe public scrubbing by a Home Affairs official.

Nevertheless, I was hopeful. Our first encounter was short and sweet in the sense that we were given the name of a head office employee and a phone number.

Just a little background. My sister had been to the South African equivalent in London and her ID and passport applications had been handed in a few years back. Regular visits to check on progress offered no hope and this is why she decided to return to source.

As we started our journey back home, we immediately phoned the number we were given to get the process started. This was in the first week of December last year. Her details were again taken with promises that the matter would be taken up with the London offices.

There was much toing and froing, too much detail to bore you with, but all of it seemed very hopeful. Phones were always answered and slowly the case was making progress. One of these was the information that her new ID had been processed and was waiting for collection at the London offices. Why she wasn’t told this or given the document at her last visit was unclear and we let it go. She will collect the ID now that she is back in London.

In the meantime, the passport became the priority and one of the issues was a visit we were planning in the new year to Mozambique. A South African rather than an American passport would mean no visa and we had also discovered that these would only be given when making the crossing into Mozambique, which could mean hours wasted. We couldn’t simply get it at their Pretoria offices. It seemed a very random decision, but they were very clear that it was the only way.

So our journey continued. In the meantime Christmas arrived and I decided not to bother our contact in the week before New Year. It just didn’t seem likely to my mind that anything would happen.

Instead she phoned us, reporting progress! To make a long story short. Our interaction and the progress with our Home Affairs contact was miraculous. From the start, our feelings were positive. It just seemed that this was an individual who was going to make this happen – and she did.

There were a few requests like filling in a new passport, for example, and writing a few notes so that our request for her to collect her passport at the local Home Affairs rather than in London was explained. The letter was even dictated, so that we would get all the wording right!

And never was any favour asked. And the only reason I am saying this is that stories abound how ordinary work only gets done in certain public and private enterprises if the worker is compensated in some way.

Not here. There was such fear from her side of any impropriety that we haven’t yet met her just to say thank-you in person. In the end, my sister collected her passport which she duly used in her crossing to Mozambique and we both lost our hearts to our Home Affairs saviour.

The only reason I am not using her name is to save her any embarrassment or long lines forming in front of her office with others lodging complaints.

Whenever I tell the story, I am inundated with cries of help from others who want their passport or ID problems resolved.

We struck it lucky, I know. But I also know that she cannot be the only one. And in a time when everyone is complaining about everything that goes wrong, she restored our faith in the civil service and the many gems that might be hidden in those government offices.

The fact that they are there was also confirmed when a friend and I did our regular renewal of driving licences, also in December. And this time I will give the name.

On a previous occasion, my husband had renewed his driver’s licence in the Cape because Gauteng’s system was in such disarray. But this time I was getting good reports about the offices in Echo Park, Centurion. This was the route we decided to go.

I made my appointment, but my friend decided to tag along, not having managed a booking. The building was in one of those office developments one sees from the highway between Tshwane and Joburg, not knowing who works there.

We found our way there with some directions, and once parked, we wound our way to what we expected would be a long queue. Not so.

Our police service was employed here and they were working according to a streamlined plan which had everyone smiling as they left the offices and again when they came to collect their licences. Not only did these young policemen all smile magnificently as they helped some of us less efficient with forms on our way, it took less time to get in and out than it took us to get there.

Some time ago this particular service was in a shambles and I can remember reports of corruption even about getting appointments. That isn’t happening anymore. I cannot vouch for any of the other offices in Gauteng but I do know that on two occasions – both of them huge – my faith in our country and the way things could and should be run, was restored.

I have never paid a bribe and I hope never to be in a situation where I feel there’s no other option. And with these two encounters, I know it is possible to make what could have been really tough situations (if not impossible), joyous.

Just keep looking, you will find someone who will help when they should.

PS: Following this writing, I had two more service hero encounters!

They might seem small in comparison, yet they added a sparkle and a huge smile to my day. The first was a grocery shopping trip to my local grocery store Uitkyk in Silverton Pretoria.

Frans Madula diligently at his post.

I have become accustomed to their custom of having two employees checking slips and groceries every time you purchase anything, but this time something was different. Having bought only a few items, I was surprised that the bill was more than R600, but I was distracted and didn’t complete the thought in my head. It was only when my trolley and purchases were checked by the alert Frans Madula, that my suspicions were confirmed. But for his quick eye, I would have paid double the amount my groceries cost!

It was a simple error, 22 rather than two tins of sardines were charged to my account but luckily for me, it was spotted and caught.

At a different store, Builders Express at Gift Acres, I found some swimming pool floaters at the best price I could find. When I got to the till where I was helped by a friendly employee whose nametag aptly read Queen. She pointed out that I could only get that specific special price if I owned a loyalty card.

No problem, she said, she would quickly register me. It was a tedious process, but she had no problem doing what she felt was her job.

And while people were piling into the queue behind me where my purchases were prolonging the process, two women slipped in behind two empty tills to prevent everyone’s impatience.

I didn’t notice anyone guiding this process in any way. These were simply employees who were well trained and who knew how to make the shopping process a smooth one – for everyone.


It’s a blessing to have had meals cooked by two of my favourite chefs recently, not having been at their tables for quite some time and as always, their food was simply the best. DIANE DE BEER pays tribute to two of the best:

Enchanted garden.

I have been a Lientjie Wessels fan forever – of her food, her art, her writing and more. Having tried for quite some time to go to one of her Cullinan long tables, I was excited when finally I could go with a group of foodie friends for one of her delightfully quirky meals.

Lientjie Wessels.
Portrait: Hennie Fisher

That has always been part of her charm for me. She makes the kind of food with ingredients I really love. A long time ago she told me that for her mother, who passed on her love of food to her daughter, it was all about taste. I think she also taught her about unusual flavours and combinations.

Right from the start, my chef consort Hennie Fisher was just blown away by her very first dish of the day: Japanese-style pancakes, homemade mayo (and she was heard murmuring as an aside that she had put this together incidentally but would include it in her repertoire, it was that good!), bonito, lowveld wild honey and spekboom.

Japanese style starter.

What Hennie loved about the dish was once again her creative playfulness. “It’s the clever way she emulated bonito with the fine powder biltong, almost turning the biltong into a kind of ‘land’ bonito,” he explains. “But also because she so cleverly combines meat and fish (even if both are dried), because it is so often a combination used in Asian cuisine. And how brilliant to make that connection with biltong and bonito!”

Just listing the ingredients should inform anyone about her innovative choices. But she’s not just throwing things together. Her cooking is instinctive yet thoughtful and she knows her customers. In her kitchen, she is always at play. And for diners, this is a fun adventure if you’re up for it.

Miso and peri-peri prawns.

The next one stuck to the Asian theme and clever combo with peri-peri prawns and miso with sesame coleslaw. It was just a dream and perfectly cooked. She seamlessly ticks all the boxes.

A Lientjie meal is possibly the only time I won’t shy away from krummelpap (maize, polenta), not one of my favourite foods but I knew if anyone could, she would convert me. She won me over with her specific buttermilk version served with Koji beef rump, a ginger steakhouse sauce (how can you not fall in love with that choice!) and pickled cucumber. It’s in the detail and the combinations, everything contributes to that single spoonful taste explosion.

And to perfectly conclude in Japanese style, the dessert, a cotton cheesecake with cinnamon syrup and tennis biscuit crumbs, sealed the deal, which I proclaimed perfection. Even as a cheesecake fanatic and two visits to Japan, I had never encountered a Japanese cheesecake before.

And blessings to the internet, which explained that this version is also known as a soufflé-style cheesecake, usually lighter in texture and less sweet than the more traditional version. But then also to serve it with Tennis biscuit crumbs! How could she not?

It’s not only the food that’s spectacular – the fact that Lientjie no longer has a restaurant in Cullinan hasn’t deterred her one bit. She simply commands the kitchens of friends in venues that contribute to the ambience of the event. And this one certainly did as I’m sure each one will. The walk up to the house was like stepping into a fairy tale.

Lientjie has recently bought a house in Richmond (Cape), a town that is fast becoming yet another food destination but with added interests like Die Karoo Padstal, Richmond Rooms and Café, MAP gallery with one of the best local art collections you will find anywhere, a bookshop to keep you busy for days and much more. It’s the perfect halfway stop.

And in future, when she’s in town, she will also be doing lunch in Richmond, like on April 9 when she is presenting a fantastic feast. If you’re passing through or sleeping over, book a table. She’s also doing a dinner in Cullinan at the Vrye Weekblad Boeke Fees, which promises to be spectacular.

Check her out on Facebook and Instagram for information. And whatsapp her on 082 531 6141 for bookings.

But while in Richmond, that’s also the location of my other much loved chef, Klaradyn Grobler of Richmond Café and Rooms and Die Karoo Padstal fame, who is also back in business. Yet she is still arguably the hardest booking to pin down.

I was thrilled when on our last trip to Cape Town, to show the London family the best of the best, we could manage to secure a booking for dinner while sleeping over at another guesthouse, one with an attached gallery – it is that kind of town, one with many hidden gems.

We had the best of all worlds to show off this spectacular landscape with a dinner celebrating Karoo lamb included. On our journey that morning we were sent the menu on our phones with three of us opting for lamb chops with roasted vegetables, while I couldn’t resist the lamb curry and one of the diners who couldn’t eat lamb, had a bacon pizza.

As with Lientjie, the venue is just as important as the food. In fact, I recognised Klaradyn’s style (having seen it in the Free State) when I first had a meal at her Richmond Café and Rooms. It’s unmistakable, buzzing with creativity and  probably complemented by her husband Nicol’s architectural skills.

And with both these chefs, their style enhances the full experience. On the night, we had two charming women in the kitchen, and as they had our choice of meals ahead of time, everything ran very smoothly.

Fresh home-baked bread and home-grown tomatoes.

We sat down at 6 pm because the kitchen closed at 7 (one listens to their commands!) and were presented with what was the perfect starter, home-baked bread (deliciously thick slices) with farm butter and fresh tomatoes from the garden. We had to battle not to indulge to the point of messing with our mains.

And then the main attraction. I absolutely lost my heart to Simon’s lamb curry with flatbread even though the lamb chops (I had a taste) were fantastic. For me the curry had just the right flavours to celebrate the lamb and after a long day’s travel, it was the best comfort food.

The chops were served with roasted vegetables in just the right mix. It is a skill to present a simple meal to perfection. There’s nowhere to hide so everything has to work. And it does!

On the counter was the night’s dessert, a bumper milktart, which had us licking our lips. At R250 a meal, it’s a steal.

Both these chefs, Lientjie and Klaradyn, popped in to discuss their food and acknowledge that they were dealing with diners who are devotees of their special way with food. We appreciated that.

It’s not difficult to understand these two spectacular women, the way they cook and how in different ways they celebrate their strengths. For me part of the charm is their similar ethos, presenting diners with food to die for and yet, their menus are so different. It’s about how they go about it and what they come up with – and in the end, as they say, the proof is in the pudding!

For bookings and info: Richmond Café and Rooms 079 755 8285.


PICTURES: Lauge Sorensen

The dance conversation starts tomorrow at the Joburg Theatre with Joburg Ballet’s triple bill of ballets new to the company’s mainstream repertoire. Titled Dialogues, two dancers were invited to choreograph two new works while a third, Bruno Miranda, will stage the 1896 ballet Bluebeard Grand Pas

Bruno Miranda with the cast for the 1896 ballet Bluebeard Grand Pas

described as a glittering showcase for dancing in ballet’s finest classical tradition. Artistic director Iain MacDonald believes the programme exposes dancers and audiences to the diversity and versatility of the company. DIANE DE BEER talks to Joburg Ballet dancer Chloé Blair who has been invited to expand Table for Two (part of Joburg Ballet’s RAW programme for new choreographers in 2021) for this first season of 2023 and Roseline Wilkens of Vuyani Dance Theatre with her first for Joburg Ballet entitled Identity:

Revil Yon (above) and Bruno Miranda in Table for Two.

“My choreography philosophy comes from the extreme passion and love that I have for dancing, specifically ballet. I find dancing to be one of the most humble ways to tell a story as it’s very understated as opposed to other art forms, like singing or acting which are maybe more out there or confrontational in some way.”

Chloé Blair believes that dance is so special because it asks the audience to look at body language and interpret it for themselves and then to connect this body language to their own feelings in a way that’s not really conscious.

When she starts working on a piece, there’s her emotional response to music, which is always the starting point. “I find that music allows me to process ideas and memories and thoughts and there’s a lot of time that I spend by myself just listening to movie scores, orchestral music, classical music and just letting my mind wander into specific situations.”

In this instance she was sitting at the dining room table with a friend listening to music they both loved called Table for Two. It’s music she loves and she started thinking about how much of our relationships happen around a table: we celebrate, we eat together, we toast one another, we have fights, she says. “And I thought that would be such an interesting way to centre a specific relationship story. From there I took some of my own memories and own experiences I had which all felt quite universal.”

As a classical ballet dancer, it influences her choreography because it forces her to pay attention to the detail of body language. “In my dance life I’m bound to a classical repertoire, which has a very solid structure. The things that convey emotion are often in the detail, like a look, a head movement, the use of the fingers or a touch, detail orientated when it comes to body language, interpretation.” She tried to use that in the piece, to capture those detailed moments, the difference between emotions by using specific body language. “Being a classical dancer, the dance is very structured and I enjoy that. You find freedom in that structure.”

But after the initial discovery of the narrative, she finds music – which, incidentally, is not usually the music she has used to develop her narrative. “The music which I finally use for the piece, is something different which marries not just the feeling of the narrative, but the structure as well.

Excited to rework the piece, she is also intimidated because to expand everything would be quite a challenge.  “I expanded the cast, because the first time it was just two men, but this time round there was a whole corps de ballet.  I used the extra dancers as a tool to tell the story, giving a lot more thought to formations, movement and how to incorporate this into the structure,” she notes.

Using two men as main characters was determined by a desire for the relationship to be very interpretive. “I wanted the audience to view it as either a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a family dynamic without specifically dictating it,” she says.  She also loves working with men, because they bring an energy and a freedom of movement which is very inspiring to work with.

Her narrative and thus choreography tells a story of how changes in thought and changes in feeling lead to changes in the dynamic between the two of them. While Table for Two follows one character’s narrative, she wanted to show a relationship in multi-dimensional way, not always as so often seen from our own perspective.

Identity choreographed by Roseline Wilkens

What Roseline Wilkens hopes to achieve with Identity is for the self to be comfortable in its own skin. She strongly believes that everything happens for a reason. “My identity was formed by my life stories. All the work I have created is very personal.”

It deals with the journeys she has made, things that have happened to her, and things that have formed her as the person she is today. “But things still keep happening and shaping my character,” she emphasises. “Whoever I meet, whether the person stays in my life or leaves, there’s always something that keeps forming you.”

But, importantly, she also holds onto her roots and where she came from, not forgetting what she stands for. She embraces change and carefully dissects wat she incorporates into her life and what she lets go. “That’s what identity is all about, finding your true self,” she says.

She was surprised by how much the dancers understood the storyline she presented them with. “It was more than I thought they would because it came from a personal perspective,” she explains. “Dealing with identity, everything had to be honest about some life-changing event.

She usually works in the field of African contemporary, sometimes classical and it would have been easier working with dancers she has worked with on a daily basis However, it was surprising working with classical contemporary ballerinas. “It was interesting how we influenced one another and the work. It came together as they made it their own and gave it their own flavour. I didn’t come with any expectations, so it was a work in progress and a work together.”

Having created the music in collaboration with Isaac Molelekoa, she doesn’t see herself as a composer, but she loves sound and working with what she feels. “I created the music with my own beats which was then transcribed as sheet music by my collaborator.” She feels blessed by this partnership which has been worked at through the years. “He gives life to the craziness in my head and the sounds I make during rehearsals.”

She doesn’t have to use any other sounds or music and this for her, truly represents her identity. “I chose the title, because it is about becoming one with self, learning to start over, relearning yourself in every way possible which means growth. I am in tune with myself,” she aptly concludes.

Joburg Ballet 2023 seasons at a glance:

Dialogues (Joburg Theatre): Friday 17 March – Sunday 26 March

Romeo and Juliet (Joburg Theatre): Friday 30 June – Sunday 9 July

La Traviata-The Ballet (Baxter Theatre, Cape Town): Wednesday 26 July – Saturday 29 July

Don Quixote (Joburg Theatre): Friday 29 September – Sunday 8 October

Dialogues: Booking Information

Standard Ticket Prices:

R475, R410, R375, R275, R200 (applicable to all performances except Wednesday 22 March for which all tickets are R100)

Friends of the Ballet 35%; Pensioners 15%; Groups of 10+ 10%; Children 4-7 50%

Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein

At Joburg Theatre Box Office or 0861 670 670 or online at

Patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick ‘n Pay stores.


The past month has really brought back the nightmare of Covid for the arts with the staging of two mesmerising shows at the Joburg Theatre highlighting the miracle of live theatre. DIANE DE BEER speaks her mind:

First off there was August Wilson’s Fences with an amazing, vibrant cast  just right for the present time. As I have written in a previous post, there was nothing to fault. But what reminded me even more strongly what we missed during Covid,  was a second show, this time contemporary dance with two of the best in the business and with the choreographers almost reaching the status of elder statesmen.

But let’s refer to them (Gregory Maqoma and Vincent Mantsoe) as the wise men of dance as they tap into the time in a way that elevates the show in so many ways.

What they presented with their specific talents and differing styles together, is so smart. I am not a dance critic, so I tread lightly when commenting on dance yet theatricality is much more universal and an easy one to asses.

While Mantsoe is much more the traditionalist, someone who time and again returns and robustly mines his roots, Maqoma bristles with contemporary energy and enthusiasm, which makes this the perfect pairing and shows the capacity and capability of the Vuyani dancers at their best.

The masters Vincent Mantsoe (below left) and Gregory Maqoma (below right) and the magnificent Vuyani dancers.

It’s in the moves, but it’s also in the mood they create on stage as the interpret their different choreographers with a precision and passion that takes your breath  away. And because of the temperature differences in the approach of the two choreographers, that’s what really gift wraps the entire production so stylishly and with such abundant generosity for the audience.

It’s the full spectrum of emotions which makes for the perfect experience in the theatre. And that’s what we missed, artists performing with a passion that comes across in every lift of a head and every tweak of a muscle.

From the costumes by Asex, which also marked the two presentations very specifically, to the exquisite music specially created for this presentation by Andrea Cera (for Mantsoe) and Elvis Sibeko (for Maqoma). Lighting by Wilhelm Disbergen, is again in a distinct language for the individual storytelling, and generously captures the atmosphere.

The masters Vincent Mantsoe (below left) and Gregory Maqoma (below right) and the magnificent Vuyani dancers.

With the programme digitally set up in the foyer for everyone to access, it enhances the experience for each individual attending. They’ve leapt bravely into a new year, one still hanging by a thread with still so much uncertainty in the world.

But the artists understand. They know there’s no holding back. As long as there are audiences, they have to tell their stories in their own way – and when they do it with such confidence as these two do, the audiences are there .

That’s been amazing and exciting to see with both Fences and ZO!Mute, neither of which will necessarily appeal to the masses – and yet, both shows I attended were packed and with an audience who were there to watch and take on anything on offer from start to finish.

That’s not always a given in the arts. I have been in many theatre and dance shows where you wish there was an audience to witness the wonders on stage. But it seems, Covid has brought a new kind of awareness.

It happens too often. When we have shows in abundance, we don’t always pay attention. But take them away – at least the live ones – for a few years, and the value of artists and what they have to say and show us seems suddenly to be appreciated.

It shouldn’t be that way,  but that’s life.

The Vuyani Dancers choreographed by Vincent Mantsoe.

Just becoming used to  the idea again of live theatre returning to our lives in full splendour, I want to shine a light on how blessed we all are to have these artists around us who bring so much to our lives.

Sometimes it silly escapism, other times it’s the marvel of their artistry. Storytelling in some form is always part of the equation and if it is for that alone, the constant expansion of our minds, we should all appreciate the sparkle, the sublime and the sheer wonderment they bring to our lives.

The Vuyani dancers cvhoroegraphed by Gregory Maqoma.

Following sold-out performances in the 2022  singer Simphiwe Dana Announces the returns with Moya directed by the prolific Gregory Maqoma under the musical direction of the seasoned Titi Luzipho, which will be staged on the Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre, from tomorrow (Friday) until Sunday (March 3 to 5).

It has been an incredible journey for Dana in the music business and her powerful and soulful voice has moved the hearts of fans across international stages. She was just a young girl from the Eastern Cape, who initially doubted the sound of her voice, before realising its strength through song. Her activist work has also allowed her voice to highlight serious social issues such as the discriminatory plight that women face.

Moya, is filled with themes of spirituality, and healing, which is inspired by the concept of loss and life. Simphiwe started writing the show after the passing of her mother, trying to find a way of understanding and healing from the loss.

The Simphiwe Dana show Moya directed by Gregory Maqoma this weekend.

Her music will be complimented by the creative fusion of contemporary African dance by the dynamic Vuyani dancers. Her story is told through the acapella roots of her music.

Tickets are available for bookings at at R350 to R550 with corporate bookings and a VIP experience from R1 000.

He is also part of the long-awaited The Head and the Load which due to Covid has been rescheduled from Friday April 21 to Saturday 6 May, also at the Joburg Theatre.

e is also part of With music composed and conceived by Philip Miller with Thuthuka Sibisi, this is William Kentridge’s exploration of Africa’s role in the First World War combining music, dance, film projections, mechanized sculptures and shadow play to illuminate the untold story of the millions of African porters and carriers who served- and in many cases died for- British, French and German battlefield forces.

Freighted with the weight of this little-examined history and quickened by Kentridge’s visionary theatrical alchemy, The Head & the Load has been described as an exceptionally ambitious work of performance.

And all of this is just the start of a momentous year for the monumental artist Gregory Maqoma.Watch this space in a year he celebrates his half century.


From the title of the book bottelnel breek bek, the warning signs are there — this is not going to be an easy read.

But because I have been following Dianne du Toit Albertze’s career for a long time, I knew this would be worth the battle.

In a digital interview, she tells me that the story found her rather than her discovering what she wanted to write about. “I needed to write about people who were braver than me because it was Covid and I needed something to save me,” she says.

That’s where she found Dora and Whashiela, who came with their own heaven-sent gifts. And their strong appearance was probably driven by the fact that “as a trans person, I don’t find many heroines in the books I read. I also don’t see them at festivals or on television. Especially not in my mother tongue,” she notes.

In her own way, she wanted to show Afrikaanse moffies that they shouldn’t let go of their dreams  —  “Moenie jou tong oppie highway verkoop nie” is how she says it bluntly and beautifully. “Nancy is waiting, we need to make and take our own space.”

Feeling and querying whether this is a very personal tale, she acknowledges that first novels are probably always close to the bone. “I wanted to push my high heels through the literary door with a story that feels close to me. I wanted to go as close to the edge as I could and much method writing followed,” she says. “I learnt about everything I wrote about and didn’t want to be a faker.

Dianne Du Toit Albertze
Picture: Peter van Noord.

“Perhaps I listen to too much Tupac or hide too easily behind my pen … because the book also helped me recover from a poisonous addiction. Every day without drugs is a BIG day. And hopefully this full-frontal writing of mine will mean something to someone out there.”

We all know about method acting and what that has done to those taking it too far, and if you read the book without the hairs on your arms standing on edge you’re possibly not paying attention.

This is an artist who takes her art seriously and even if it meant she climbed a steep mountain with the language, it is what adds authenticity and soul to the characters and story.

“I wouldn’t have been true to my characters if they spoke the language of dubbed Turkish soapies,” explains Dianne about her choices. And acknowledges that she wanted to honour the colourful language of the trans community in Observatory and Matjieskloof. “A variant like Gayle (created by the  queer coloured community in Cape Town) even has its own accents in specific regions.”

 And then she’s not even referring to Sabela (a language flounced together from numerous local languages in local prisons for gangs to communicate) or those creative Cape expressions we’re all familiar with. This is completely different yet with distinct similarities – an anomaly in itself.

Dianne du Toit Albertze striking a pose.

“I’ve always been fascinated by linguistics – to create different codes and to learn different expressions and idioms.”

On a language level, she embroiders, the tongues of the different characters metaphorically reflect their life paths – also pushed out and teetering on the periphery. “Those of us who have for so long been hiding in the shadows should move into the light and speak loudly.” Another incentive for telling her story the way she does – letting it all hang out … bravely.

Amen, say I, having read the book and also revelling in this particular interview/conversation, which was a written rather than a spoken one. “Steve Biko says I write what I like and perhaps I agree with him,” notes Dianne. “I write about shit that matters to me and what I believe will interest a broader audience.”

She also hopes that a trans child might read the book and realise that they too matter, perhaps influenced by her own struggles and lack of support.

For the writer personally, she has many dreams and desires: a musical, Medea in Namakwaland, staged in-between the koppies; and to write a few movie scripts. These are on the cards.

For her, writing plays is like breathing in and out. She’s been doing that from a very young age right through her drama studies. “Poetry and prose come from there, but to write for stage is my big love,” she says.

As for her activist stance, she took her queue from the Sestigers (a moniker for a group of dissident Afrikaans writers, including Breyten Breytenbach, André Brink, Ingrid Jonker, Elsa Joubert, Jan Rabie and Etienne le Roux) who believed that words carry weight and that we need the arts and artists to be our conscience.  
This would mean, to her mind, stories that free us from what is becoming a hopeless land with steadily growing layers and levels of suffering.

In the meantime she is working with actor/director Lee-Ann van Rooy on a season of her text Kaap, which was performed at the 2020 NATi Jong Sterre Suidoosterfees . And with her Namakwaland trans sisters, she is busy creating an NGO House of Influence with which they hope to establish safe houses as well as perform community theatre.

She’s a busy woman but for those of us lucky enough to witness her creativity, moving on the edges as she does, she draws a curtain on a hidden yet important world.

This is what makes our universe an interesting one. People are allowed if not encouraged to be themselves and for those who are open to the diversity and differences, it establishes a never-ending stage of wonder, wisdom and, of course, a wackiness without which life would be so much poorer and less colourful.

And as Dianne is so determined to bring to our attention, real people are living here.



Fences with Troy (Tumisho Masha, left) holding court, Hlomla Dandala (Lyons, Troy’s son from a previous relationship) , Lunga Radebe (far right, Jim Bono; Troy’s best friend) with Khutjo Green as Troy’s wife Rose and Sbusiso Mamba as his brother Gabriel, looking on.


FENCES by August Wilson

DIECTOR: Ricardo Kahn


CAST: Tumisho Masha (Troy, head of the family), Khutjo Green (his wife Rose), Atandwa Kani (their son Cory), Sbusiso Mamba (Troy’s brother Gabriel), Lunga Radebe (his best friend Jim Bono), Hlomla Dandala (Lyons, a son from a previous relationship) and Itumeleng Ngxakazi (daughter Raynell)

SET DESIGNER: Sarah Roberts




VENUE: Nelson Mandela at the Joburg Theatre

DATES: Until February 26

TIMES: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11am; from Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; and Sundays at 3pm

Many of us feel that every production we attend  is an event. No one had any doubt about this at the Sunday afternoon opening of Fences with the theme on the invite stating retro ‘50s and the audience coming out to play – BIG TIME.

They were obviously in the mood and the foyer was buzzing. They had stepped delightfully into their magnificent 50-style glad rags and set the pace for what was about to unfold on stage.

Fences with Tumisho Masha as Troy and Hlomla Dandala as Lyons.

And that’s part of the festivities with this kind of opening – the people. I’ve seen enough international productions to know that you probably won’t find our unique audiences anywhere else in the world. They’re there to listen but also to participate. In different parts of the auditorium, you will have your own special chorus who will usually add rather than detract from the production.

On this day, we were blessed with a sassy group of women who were happy to speak their minds, leaving no doubt about their feelings while warmly embracing what was happening on stage.

And with reason. There might have been hiccups with the initial casting, with Kani snr sadly having to step aside because of medical reasons from which he will recover, he says. Yet it is the strength of the ensemble that inhabits this Wilson play that takes your breath away.

You simply have to look at the cast or, if you’re unfamiliar with their names, check their credentials and experience, to know that they will pull it off. And they did and in this instance with no weak links. In the hands of an American director who is steeped in the August Wilson tradition, his intimate knowledge of the people, the time and the place, where and when Fences is set, is obvious.

Fences with Sbusiso Mamba as brother Gabriel with Tumisho Masha as Troy .

Not only does the American accent lie gently on the cast’s tongues, they truly play as if to the manner born, which allows everything and everyone to concentrate on honouring this extraordinary play.

From the Roberts set (as the lights and multi-media come into play) – one that embraces and draws the audience into even this huge auditorium – to the lightness of touch when dealing with the complicated relationships in families, perfection is deftly accomplished.

Wilson often deals in dreams cherished and then dashed in a community that against all odds still has hope that its desires will be met. Here a father lashes out at his sons in a way that curtails and sometimes crushes their dreams, and plays fast and loose with those closest to him in a way that can only spell disaster.

And while this is a story set in the middle of the last century, it has as much relevance today (sadly) as it did then. Similar scenarios are still unravelling families and their hoped-for futures.

If all of this seems just too dire to witness, it is a grand celebration of performances from some of our best actors in a play that allows them to shine individually and as a group.

Fences with Atandwa Kani as the son Cory and his father (Tumisho Masha) in confrontation.

Starring Masha (who many might recognise as a past Top Billing presenter) as the central character of the father, a man so crippled by his past that he finds it difficult to encourage others to try for the best, he plays some of those long speeches with such a natural air it’s difficult not to engage with his plight, the way he has chosen to deal with it and destroy even more lives by his actions.

As the only woman, Green (looking on in above picture) has no problems establishing a presence as a woman of substance – someone you don’t want to mess with. She’s there for her men and, if allowed would probably get the family moving in spite of hardship.

Kani Jnr as the youthfull Cory, a son with stars in his eyes, has a bounce in his step and his delivery marvellously captures the energy of someone on the brink of a life, while Mamba as the hapless Grabriel probably has one of the toughest hurdles in a role that almost begs an actor to steal the show. But he plays with the necessary pathos to honour the man and the story being told.

Dandala and Radebe also make their moments count with the young Ngxakazi making an auspicious debut surrounded by this veteran cast.

It is a story that niggles and nourishes. With August Wilson described as the “theatre’s poet of black America”, director and cast have pulled together a production to remember while presenting a fantastic start to a season of Wilson plays in the coming years.

Next up is The Piano Lesson which recently had rave reviews for its revival with Samuel L Jackson and John David Washington.

Don’t miss out on our own fantastic revival with a cast that bristles.


PICTURES: Nardus Engelbrecht



Translated and adapted into Afrikaans from Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs by director Nico Scheepers

CAST: Cintaine Schutte and Albert Pretorius

VENUE: Mannie Manim at the Market

DATES: Until February 5 (Tuesday – Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm)

It’s almost dizzying to keep up with the minds and meanderings of a young couple who start their conversation about having a child while shopping in Makro.

“Did you have to do it here?” asks the woman, who is obviously flustered by  what she considers to be a full catastrophe, which has just been dropped into her world by her partner.

He on the other hand, calm and mostly collected, or probably simply laid-back, was making conversation.

But at breakneck speed they’re off, because having a baby when you’re dealing with two people who are also thinking about the world and their impact in and on it, clearly is no easy route to navigate.

And that’s precisely where the title slips into the equation. But between these two, it’s all about their conversation, the way they view the world and the way they present it to one another. He has an upfront approach, no frills, simply stated, almost matter of fact, whether its about his new corporate job, which boots him into adult life for the first time, or whether he should go for a run.

For her, it’s jump right in, talk before think and loudly put out every crazy thought that might pop into her head. Usually it’s those ideas that most people have, but never say for others to hear, while she just lets it all out and only when seeing the reaction, tries to smooth things over.

 For her, it’s fine letting him know that she hates his parents. Doesn’t he? But when he talks about hers, she’s completely taken aback.

It’s a snapshot of the life of two human beings with similar hopes and dreams, yet no matter what the intent, their way of getting there is vastly different.

We all know love should be enough, but relationships are messy animals that have to be trained and exercised and even then, it’s a miracle if things work out.

What the playwright has done in the writing is set the tone for the piece as he jumps smartly with timelines while unfolding these lives. With director Scheepers perfectly picking up the pace, which is what really determines the ebb and flow of the piece, it’s an exhilarating experience for both players and audience.

Schutte is mesmerising in a magnetic performance that never lags and is constantly overwhelming in its intensity and innovative execution. She laughs, smiles, screams and cries in the matter of moments, because her world is driven by fiery emotions. Every arch of her eyes, sudden movement, a silence that is brought on unexpectedly, is carefully thought through and choreographed.

She has made the part her own and draws you into a life that is familiar but rarely plays out so publicly. Hers is the role of a lifetime and she’s embraced it with her whole being, magnificently.

But she needs Pretorius’s more gentle approach, his character’s humour and frailty, as the foil to her more explosive character for the whole to coalesce,  which it does brilliantly.

It’s joyous and sad, witty yet wise, in your face yet delightfully wistful seemingly all at once and without labouring any points or pushing any agendas. It bears witness to two lives which have bumped into one another and are pushing for a conclusion which will make sense and hopefully bring happiness to the two souls so desperately trying to make things work.

It will make your head spin – delightfully!



The multi-award winning production Tien Duisend Ton is coming to the Market Theatre from 19 January to 5 February. Presented by Carel Nel, the SU Woordfees and the Market Theatre, Tien Duisend Ton has been translated into Afrikaans (from Lungs by Duncan MacMillan) and directed brilliantly by Nico Scheepers. Two of South Africas foremost young talents, Albert Pretorius and Cintaine Schutte, star as a couple seriously considering procreation in the face of imminent extinction. DIANE DE BEER finds out more about the production:

Tien Duisend Ton is an incredibly moving, funny and fast-paced production which was first staged at the SU Woordfees pre-Covid and now returns with a season which has been impacted by the pandemic in different ways.

Initially, producer Karel Nel was looking for a one- or two-hander and spoke to impressarios Hennie van Greunen and Pedro Kruger about possible plays. Hennie told him about Lungs. “I bought it online, read it and lost my heart to the story.”

He describes it as a universal love story about having children and the things you grapple with when thinking about having children. It all happened around his wedding to actress Cintaine Schutte, which made the play even more right. He immediately bought the Afrikaans rights.

The couple approached Nico Scheepers, a dear friend of theirs, and also a good director and translator. Carel and Cintaine had done a play called Fliek with Nico as director in 2017. “It didn’t feel like work,” explains Carel, “it was just like friends coming together, having fun and creating amazing theatre.”

At the start, Tien Duisend Ton was earmarked for Carel and Cintaine to give them both work. Their proposal was accepted by the Woordfees and starter money was given. Just before the beginning of the festival, Carel got a very big international television series and he had to pull out of his own play.

“I had no choice because of financial reasons.” And the irony of pulling out of his own play wasn’t lost on him, but he thought about his best actor choice to replace him and Albert Pretorius popped into his head.

“They always say plays cast themselves and this is exactly what happened in this case, it was actually meant to happen. They are both unbelievable actors, both have won many awards, and are two of our finest actors in any language.”

It was indeed a match made in heaven! They actually went to a matric dance together in 2007, so they’ve known each other since high school, and have been very good friends since then.

They both have experience across the board being regular stage performers as well as television and film actors, Cintaine regularly features on magazine covers, and both of them are audience favourites and considered of the most exciting talents in the business.

They are two of my favourite people and I am always excited to see them in new work. They come with unexpected performances, show constant growth, which is my benchmark and all an audience can wish for – to be constantly challenged.

The target audience for this play is anyone from the age of 16. Even if you don’t have children, the issues include grappling with climate change, whether it is ethically right to bring more kids into the world, what we as human beings are doing to the earth, is it sustainable and what life would be like for future generations.

All are universal themes and a question that any age group would tackle and as Carel argues, has become even more relevant following the Covid pandemic, which we’ve just been through. “We were doing the play before Covid and in just the past three years, see how the world has changed. Tien Duisend Ton looks at human behaviour. But more than anything, it’s a love story between a man and a woman going through the trials and tribulations of life, how they cope with work, the world, having children and all things that couples have to deal with.

Albert Pretorius and Cintaine Schutte battling the baby odds.

The play opened at the US Woordfees in 2019, was well received with sold out performances and has won numerous nominations and prizes for the cast, director and production.

They started talking to James Ngcobo, the artistic director at The Market (now at Joburg Theatres) in 2019. The Woordfees asked them back in 2020, they had plans for The Market and were on their way to KKNK when Covid hit the world and everything came to a sudden halt.

But now they’re back, theatres have opened once again and their Market run has been reignited. “A play changes as everyone grows but because we’re dealing with people with much more life experience, and a world that has been turned on its head, this is almost a new beginning for Tien Duisend Ton,” says Carel.

It’s a thrill for everyone involved to work at the iconic Market Theatre, and everything has run smoothly. He is especially pleased that even with Ngcobo’s departure, the play still secured its season.

Carel who had performed at The Market can’t wait for the cast to experience the diverse audiences. “It is something to behold,” he emphasises.

Albert Pretorius. Photo: NARDUS ENGELBRECHT

or Albert Pretorius, Tien Duisend Ton is a lovely play to perform in. “It’s one of the finest texts I’ve ever worked with, so finely crafted, so exciting. You can’t relax for a moment, you’ve got to be present the whole time. The lines come quick and fast. One minute you’re laughing and the next you’re crying.”

He believes it challenges both actors and audiences in the best way. “You walk off and wonder what has just happened? It’s such a nice topic as well. I find it so full. We can have all these debates with big questions and it feels like human nature at work.

“The selfish self will always find its way into everything. we can have all the debates about pollutions and all of that, but we still buy plastic straws. The text  shines a light on human nature.”

He views his character as an everyman. “What I love about him is that he doesn’t think everything through. He thinks he knows all the answers, and there are things he’s not willing to compromise on. But at the end of the day, he is so flawed and so human. We all make mistakes yet we all try to our best.

Cintaine Schutte

For Cintaine, the piece is close to her heart. “There’s something of everything, an unbelievable text, clever, brutally honest, and written with such strength, it challenges you as an actress to use your full toolkit.

Because of that, she is thrilled to have an actor opposite her whom she can fully trust. With Albert, a close friend, she allows herself to feel vulnerable, because she has no props, no tricks, no lighting, nowhere to hide. “It’s just you in the moment with honesty.”

But it’s also the issues and problems that are more relevant now than before. “Especially today, you’re looking at these two people who aren’t just in a relationship, but are trying to navigate their world, calm the storm so that they can get to their truths, what they really want and the way to go.

And then there’s director Nico Scheepers. They can play confidently because he has a stronmg and smart guiding hand.

“It is lovely to return to this piece which happened just before and in the early days of the pandemic, thrilled to return there, and it’s very special to do this with these special guys.”

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