THE KLEIN KAROO NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL IS CELEBRATING ITS RETURN WITH DIVERSITY

With Covid-19 still a part of our lives, the uncertainty of live events is constantly hovering. Will it or won’t it? That’s the question on everyone’s mind as each event or festival comes into play. And while dates have to be juggled and last-minute plans put into play, this year’s Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees has come up with an exceptional programme in any circumstances – but especially now. DIANE DE BEER spotlights some highlights of this year’s KKNK which starts at the end of the month:

I can still remember hearing the news about the first Covid-19 lockdown at the 2020 Woordfees and while all of us were devastated and slightly bewildered, none of us realised quite the impact it would have on our lives – and the arts.

This was to be our last arts festival in a couple of years and the effect of that on the lives of artists who need live audiences has been disastrous.

Nataniël’s Prima Donna opens the festival.

There have been brilliant innovations in the intervening years and the word hybrid will fortunately become part of the festival landscape to broaden their audiences as well as capturing theatre on film for those who cannot attend a festival but would love to see productions.

And yet, nothing will compare with the real thing, which is why the announcement that 2022’s Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) will be happening from 29 March to 3 April was received with such joy.

Not only are they back, but the programme is something to cherish, especially in these haphazard times where everything has to happen almost on the trot. But as they suggest in their big reveal, “even in its slightly smaller format, the festival acts as a fuse for the explosion of productions and experiences to be presented by heavyweights in the South African arts industry!”

“This year’s festival is truly overflowing with exceptional programming in celebration of the KKNK’s return to Oudtshoorn, while retaining the quality that makes festivalgoers get in their cars and drive to Oudtshoorn annually,” says Hugo Theart, Artistic Director of the KKNK.

He isn’t just boasting  –  two of my personal favourites, Nataniël and director Marthinus Basson, are leading the way with their productions.

Nataniël’s Prima Donna, a debut show, will be opening the festival on Monday evening (March 28) and part of the excitement of the production is that he will sing a bunch of his favourite covers, all of which he has arranged himself. Add to that a collection of his fantastical tales, and those attending will be starting their festival with a bang.

Basson will be presenting two plays, Ek, Anna van Wyk, in memory of, and to honour Pieter Fourie (the first CEO of the KKNK), who recently passed away, starring Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Dawid Minnaar, Albert Pretorius, Carlo Daniels, Wilhelm van der Walt, Geon Nel, Gideon Lombard and René Cloete, and internationally acclaimed playwright Lars Norén’s Terminaal 3 with Anna-Mart van der Merwe, André Roothman, Edwin van der Walt, Carla Smith and Stian Bam. Both will delight festival connoisseurs.

Three iconic female artists further enhance the star line-up with the internationally acclaimed Mary Sibande this year’s Festival Artist and the double celebration of Antoinette Kellermann and Antjie Krog’s 70th birthdays in 2022 with Kellermann creating magic in the words of Krog in die oerkluts kwyt.

The picture tells its own story of Neil Coppen’s storytelling in Op Hierdie Dag

Other new scripts at the festival include Die halwe huis, a one-man show written by Oudtshoorn resident Ricardo Arendse, with another Klein Karoo local, Marlo Minnaar, in the lead, with Lee-Ann van Rooi as director; the promising Agulhasvlakte by young playwright Herschelle Benjamin with Kanya Viljoen as director and Wilhelm van der Walt, René Cloete and Kay Smith on stage; while another Oudtshoorn production Op hierie dag forms part of the KKNK Karoo Kaarte project, which will be the heart of the festival this year, showcasing Oudtshoorn residents’ various talents. Theatre couple Lida Botha and Johan Botha, who have relocated to this region, will be directed by the exciting playwright/director Neil Coppen and visual arts curator and facilitator Vaughn Sadie.

Mbulelo Grootboom and Wessel Pretorius in Kiss of the Spider Woman. Picture Fiona McPherson

Nêrens Noord-Kaap, following its success on television, returns with Geon Nel, Albert Pretorius, and De Klerk Oelofse; while the Sylvaine Strike production Kiss of the Spiderwoman featuring Wessel Pretorius and Mbulelo Grootboom; Spertyd honouring deceased Elsa Joubert, with the phenomenal Sandra Prinsloo in the lead and the return of Oscar en die pienk tannie, directed by Lara Bye, complete a very strong line-up.

Looking for something unusual, dance enthusiasts can book for Karatara with dance group Figure of 8 – the 2020 KKNK Young Voice Prize recipient, who joins forces with Dean Balie and director Gideon Lombard.

If you’re in the mood for something light, comedies include Transpirant with Bennie Fourie and Schalk Bezuidenhout – who can also be seen in Schalk sing sleg; motormouth Marc Lottering in his stand-up comedy show Uncle Marc; Adriaan Alfred in Adriaan Alfred Live; Lizz Meiring in her solo show Kameras, konserte en kleedkamers; Marion Holm returns with Holmruggery; while Koos Kombuis, Dana Snyman and Erns Grundling, as well as Pietman Geldenhuys and Lyntjie Jaars from the Oppiestoep TV series, entertain audiences with their storytelling ingenuity.

Making music, David Kramer Vanaand, a solo show for Kramer, and Amanda Strydom with Nostalgie are the two evergreen performers who have performed at every KKNK.

Kombuis, Dana Snyman and Erns Grundling, as well as Pietman Geldenhuys and Lyntjie Jaars from the Oppiestoep TV series, entertain audiences with their storytelling originality.

Coenie de Villiers and André Schwartz

Coenie de Villilers and André Schwartz, both on piano, team up for a celebration of their work. Karen Zoid followers will be thrilled that she performs in an acoustic and more intimate show, and Emo Adams and Take Note bring the flavour of Cape Town entertainment to the Klein Karoo.

Six of the country’s well-known guitarists will be together on one stage in Kitaarkonings, with the  gentle muso Louis Mhlanga playing in Afrika Blues.

Another highlight is The Music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with Lynelle Kenned, André Schwartz and the Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra presented on the Celebratio pomegranate farm outside Oudtshoorn, where Spoegwolf 10 Jaar also takes place. Other contemporary shows include Elvis Blue, Luna Paige, Rocco de Villiers, and Anna Davel.

For classical music enthusiasts a special recital of Beethoven and Beyond with the well-known American pianist Gustavo Romero is included on the programme.

Those familiar with the “out of the box” theatre concept will know that this is something to watch. This time it is called Lucky Pakkie Theatre, which means you will be going for a lucky packet stage version of the popular musical chairs game… Be ready for loads of fun. Three Lucky Pakkie packages will cater for all ages, from younger viewers (Melkbaarde) to older viewers (Sagtebaarde), and adult viewers (Hardebaarde). Each mystery round of entertainment will last 15 minutes.

Last but not least is the Visual Arts programme, curated by the innovative Dineke van der Walt, which for example includes the colourful Mapula creations, all of which can be viewed in the familiar  Prince Vincent building.

Joylyn Phillips (second from right) in Bientang also rewarded with Kunste Onbeperk Young Voice award.

The festival has honoured individuals in the industry since its inception, and this year’s four exceptional people include playwright Jolyn Phillips receiving the Kunste Onbeperk Prize for a Young Voice (she can be seen in the debut production Bientang); Nic Barrow, one of the founders of the KKNK and the individual who planted the seed for a festival in Oudtshoorn, is honoured for his contribution to the KKNK; and the ever-popular and exceptional Frank Opperman (to be seen in Ek Wens, ek wens) who is awarded the Kunste Onbeperk Prize for Interpretation.

Frank Opperman in Ek wens, ek wens, also honoured for interpretation with Kunste Onbeperk prize.

Ticket sales are open and accommodation can be booked through LekkeSlaap at www.lekkeslaap.co.za/akkommodasie-naby/kknk, or kknk.co.za/verblyf-lekkeslaap/.

Interested festivalgoers can get more information by subscribing to the KKNK newsletter, following the KKNK on social media, or visiting www.kknk.co.za. Feel free to contact the festival office on 044 203 8600 or send a WhatsApp message to 065 285 2337.

The KKNK will follow a vaccination mandate, but terms and conditions for exclusions apply. More information is available at www.kknk.co.za.

SYLVAINE STRIKE REIMAGINES KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, A STORY SHE HOLDS DEAR

PICTURES: Fiona McPherson

Togetherness.

Returning to the theatre after such barren and isolated times with Kiss of the Spider Woman  ̶  to spark conversation is a great gift, Sylvaine Strike tells DIANE DE BEER. It has been a troubled ride for the proposed run of this play which was cancelled on the eve of their opening in June 2021 when the 3rd wave of Covid hit. But now they’re ready to go with a run at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre until March 26:

“It felt so terribly hard to abandon the work when we were closed down,”  says director Sylvaine Strike.

In full-blown artist mode she expands: “It felt deadly. Where does one put all the adrenalin, all the emotive impulses so necessary to tell this story in all its noble truth? My heart broke for my actors who were about to fly. Hibernation of the artistic soul has been one of the most challenging realities we have had to face as live performers,” she explains.

But now, just short of a year, they’re back again to hopefully complete a run. Kiss of the Spider Woman is a story she has always wanted to tell. “It is first and foremost, an inmate and delicate study of human behaviour. It is a testimony to our ability to escape our reality through the imagination, a triumph in the battle to defeat prejudice; it is a poem about learning to love all that one hates about oneself, all that one fears in the other; it is about accepting difference through tenderness.”

Embracing what is too often labelled as other has become crucial, urgent, she argues and she simply loved the humanity of the work.

Ironically she had been booked to direct Kiss at the Baxter in mid-2019, long before Covid became a reality. “I am often asked if I chose this piece because of the pandemic since it speaks of confinement, seeking escape though retelling of stories from the silver screen (think of what Netflix meant to us all during this confinement!) but ultimately it is also a play about isolation from society.

Mbulelo Grootboom and Wessel Pretorius in Kiss of the Spider Woman

“It is in fact Covid that helped me understand this piece on a cellular level, our human need for contact, for connection, for escapism, for understanding.”

Discussing her casting, she notes that our immediate assumption as South Africans, when we see a black Xhosa male (Mbulelo Grootboom) and white Afrikaans male (Wessel Pretorius) sharing a prison cell, is likely that this story will be about racial tension.

So to her mind, it seemed crucial to shatter this preconception and challenge viewers to engage with the piece on a very different level.

“As humans we are so quick to other in so many ways. Wessel and Mbulelo are both remarkably in touch with who they are as men, embracing both the positive and negative aspects of their masculine and feminine halves, and highlighting the necessity for Valentin and Molina’s story to be shared with all audiences, guarding in turn against prejudice, sexual preference or political ideology.

“Ultimately, this story is about survival, betrayal, regret and our need for connection. Whatever preconception audiences may have will gently be turned on its head,” she predicts.

“The playwright Manuel Puig had staggering courage for his time. I hope that we too have shown courage in this rendition, exactly 50 years after it was penned, it is very much a classic of gay literature  ̶  but we hope to contribute to it being seen as a great classic  ̶  eternally relevant to human nature.”

Fantasy at Play.

Design has always played a huge role in her productions and collaborating with Wolf Britz was a real treat.

“We both agreed that we needed to set it somewhere neutral,  that it could be a prison cell anywhere as the location of Buenos Aires Argentina is never referred to by the characters. This enabled us to build on the theme of imprisonment as a metaphor of the mind, while also being a very literal prison.

“We researched Argentinian prisons, and Wolf was inspired to thread colours, textures and the feel of the them into the fabric of the piece. I really wanted to get a sense of the cell being one of many, positioned above a cell and below another, with only wrought iron grids separating them. I wanted the characters to be lit from below and above too, through these grids,” she explains.

As with all her work, she wanted the actors to be rehearsing on the set – a very small restricted square, with an oppressively low ceiling above it- from as early as possible in the process. She knew that by the time they had mastered their space it would feel huge. And that is what happened.

She details thus: “Molina sets up home, plays housewife, remembers movies; Valentin reads, studies Marx, pines for his girlfriend while their lives intersect and become entangled on levels they never dreamed were possible.”

Lighting design also took on huge significance. “Light plays a huge part in confined spaces like prisons,” she notes. “Time is indicated through natural and synthetic light. Mannie Manim has evoked both perfectly with his wizardry,” she says.

The serious side of play.

In conclusion she stresses that gender politics are a necessary conversation in our times, more so than ever in societies that are seeking to be inclusive and illuminated.

“Returning to the theatre after such barren and isolated times with Kiss to spark conversation is a great gift, I believe. We cannot wait to share the sacred ritual of the collective experience with our audiences once again. This is our place of worship. It is here that it all makes sense.”

And as if this Kiss season isn’t enough, she will also be at The Baxter together with Andrew Buckland in the stage version of Ferine and Ferase titled Firefly from March 24 until April .

The play runs nightly from Mondays to Saturdays starting at 7.30pm; with matinées on Saturdays at 2.30pm.  Bookings at Webticket.

Those attending this year’s Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) from 29 March to 3 April, will also have the opportunity to catch the play there.

JM COETZEE’S LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K IS A STORY THAT RESONATES

PICTURES: Fiona McPherson

Craig Leo and Carlo Daniels in Life and Times of Michael K

DIANE DE BEER

JM COETZEE’S LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K

ADAPTED AND DIRECTED by Lara Foot

CAST: Sandra Prinsloo, Andrew Buckland, Faniswa Yisa, Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam, Carlo Daniels, Marty Kintu, Billy Langa and Nolufefe Ntshuntshe with the Handspring Puppet Company

CO-PRODUCTION: Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (Germany) and Baxter Theatre

SET DESIGN: Patrick Curtis

LIGHTING DESIGN: Joshua Cutts

ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION: Kyle Shephard

DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM: Fiona McPherson and Barrett de Kock

VIDEOGRAPHY AND EDITING: Yoav Dagan

PROJECTION DESIGN: Kirsti Cumming

COSTUMES: Phyllis Midlane

 SOUND DESIGN: Simon Kohler

VENUE: Baxter Theatre

DATES AND TIMES:  7pm nightly until 19 March with Saturday matinees at 2pm on 5, 12 and 19 March

Craig Leo, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, Carlo Daniels, Faniswa Yisa, Billy Langa in Life and Times of Michael K

It is quite astonishing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the backdrop on most minds, how the horror in JM Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K is amplified.

Written in 1983 in Coetzee’s sparse yet startling style, the story shines a powerful light on the life of a simple man, afflicted by a disfigurement, standing out without being someone, and being in the world not to engage, but rather flee from others.

That’s where he finds his freedom – in the wild, desolate landscape of a country that doesn’t want him and yet pursues him for crimes not committed or even imagined.

Both Michael K and his mother have lived honourable lives in service of others, he as a gardener and she as a domestic worker who lives under the stairs in an apartment block, like her son, unseen and unheard.

When she falls ill, with war raging around them, she turns to her son to take her “home”, there where she was born and raised, where she believes she once found happiness. And so their harrowing journey begins.

Sandra Prinsloo, Faniswa Yisa, Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam in Life and Times Of Micheal K

Because of where we find ourselves right now, and looking back through the history of these past 30 years, both nationally and internationally, Michael K’s story hasn’t changed. That’s why it is such a brilliant choice to herald what we are hoping beyond hope, might be better times.

There was a buzzy anticipation on opening night as people moved into the Baxter Theatre for the Lara Foot-adapted and -directed Life and Times of Michael K, a production cleverly staged with the Handspring Puppet Company in a multi-dimensional fashion including performance, film and music – all on a grand scale.

And with a magnificent set which constantly changes with moving as well as still images and lighting that astounds, we’re off into the story and running with the narrative from the start. It’s quite overwhelming as Michael K’s story is told from many different angles and voices with different landscapes as he goes on his long and winding journey. Visually it is spectacular and achieves a moving world that is both elaborate and evocative.

Telling the story, there’s an ensemble playing different characters; the physical Michael K, exquisitely crafted by the Handspring masters happily accompanied by his equally statured mother; the voices and puppeteers; as well as the film, which simply because of scale could be jarring at times rather than just slipping in and out of the narrative – yet all of these combined make it quite difficult to get to the beating heart of the story.

Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, Craig Leo, Carlo Daniels, Roshina Ratnam and Andrew Buckland in Life and Times of Michael K

As the name suggests, this is Michael K’s story. While the character himself can be seen as an insignificant man, that is the point and what Coetzee hopes to uncover in his desolate and desperately haunting tale of a man who is struggling to find and cling to his freedom. Gardening is what moves his world, something that adds rather than detracts from our physical place on this earth.

But even that is not good enough. Somehow it is twisted into an act of terrorism as he is accused of feeding a guerrilla army. He is simply never allowed to be.

Coetzee’s descriptive and detailed telling of Michael K’s battle to survive on this arid land, the way he works with the earth to both feed the soil and his soul, nourishing his freedom, his sole means of survival, doesn’t quite have the impact on stage as it does on the page. The exquisite existential rendering which won Coetzee such applause is somehow missed.

His is a harsh world in which there is mistrust all round. Who is Michael K? Even though he is described as someone who cannot organise a dart game, he is still seen as a threat by those who feel they are in command and have to lead the way.

No one can be left to their own devices. And it is this stranglehold, a man’s desperate struggle to hold on to his freedom, that disappears under the weight of the production, one where the true horror of being Michael K struggles to break through.

Foot has thrown all her energy and skill into this one and there are many memorable moments to witness and remember. It is a worthy production that captures the zeitgeist – a time of pandemics and panicked, power-driven presidents.

What you don’t get is the bewilderment of a man who has found himself in a world that prohibits him from finding his own way and making a life unaffected by those around him. The only way he knows how to breathe and survive.

Thát is the life and times of Michael K.

BROTHERS IN ARMS AT JOBURG’S MARKET THEATRE

Katlego Chale and Nhlakanipho Manqele in Brothers Size.

Photographer: Lungelo Mbulwana

DIANE DE BEER

DIANE DE BEER

THE BROTHERS SIZE by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Director: James Ngcobo

Cast: Katlego Chale, Nhlakanipho Manqele and Marlo Minnaar

Lighting Designer: Simon King

Set and Props Designer: Nadya Cohen

Costume Designer: Nthabiseng Makone

Sound Designer: Mandla Mkaba

Choreographer: Lulu Mlangeni

VENUE: Mannie Mannim at the Market Theatre

For the past few years artistic director of the Market James Ngcobo has been exploring especially themes of brotherhood when selecting their Black History Month production – and 2022 is no different.

This time he has opted for a revival of The Brothers Size by award winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney for a limited season until February 28 . It was first presented here with an American cast and Ngcobo was keen to try his own hand with local actors because of the universal theme and the excellence of the play.

And last time, he explains, it was a week run only with not too many theatregoers able to attend.

He is also excited because he is working with three actors he has never worked with before. “It’s been a hands-on and collaborative effort,” he notes and he was thrilled by their response to the play.

, Nhlakanipho Manqele

It’s the story of two brothers, one of whom has been incarcerated and just returned to normal life. Ogun Size played by Nhlakanipho Manqele is named after the spirit of iron and labour. Oshoosi Size, played by Katlego Chale, is the younger brother named after the spirit of the forest and a wanderer.

Elegba, played by Cape Town actor Marlo Minnaar, who arrives as a friend of the brothers who comes to stir the pot and provoke additional discord between the them, is named after the spirit of chaos and the god of the crossroad.

Pointing to the names, Ngcobo liked the fact that the playwright used Yoruba names, which in typical African fashion, give some of the character of each of the men.

Together the two brothers and a friend start the conversation about prison and the rest develops from there.

For those who don’t recognise the playwright’s name, he was also involved with the film Moonlight’s script, which received so much Oscar buzz and awards a few years ago.

If you saw the film, you would have recognised the sensitivity with which the story was told. It was also refreshing at the time that this was a Black voice telling their own stories. It has fortunately become more commonplace now with the Black Lives Matter movement which adds a much more personal dimension to these stories.

It is set in Louisiana which, according to Ngcobo, is also the prison capital of the world  ̶  not a title that many world cities want to claim. Especially in the past decade, much has become more public about the imprisonment of especially Black men with the numbers suggesting that not many of them escape this horrific punishment. This plays a huge role in this particular story.

 As they start their conversation it is clear that the younger brother feels a certain entitlement because he has just left prison and is perhaps in need of some pampering from his perfect older bro.

There’s also a friend who is obviously not the influence needed in the vulnerable convict’s life at that exact time.

With all our knowledge about the African American male and his precarious position in American life, one cannot but experience the play through that prism. It’s like navigating a slippery ledge throughout.

As the older and wiser brother, Manqele is the one who holds all the cards. His character is the one who opens his heart and allows the story to shine through in full colour. The strength of both his words and his action leads the way, with Minnaar’s cool cat someone who could lead those with less backbone astray. And his slippery Elegba is in it only for himself. What happens to those around him is only a concern when it affects him and his wellbeing.

Magical moves.

The younger Size is perhaps the most difficult role to play. He needs to generate some sympathy from the audience to get them engaged. But because Chale starts on such a climatic note, he has nowhere to go as the play builds towards a climax. From start to finish his bravado never lets up to allow for some compassion.

Yet his sensitive moves in a few passages throughout show a side of the actor which could have been harnessed more effectively throughout.

This is a play that relies heavily on performance, and a wrong step upsets the rhythm. We don’t want to see any of the work as we step into the story.

The music and the visuals could also have more impact if they land at exactly the right time with precision.

Nonetheless, it is a courageous play to stage, with more than enough to grapple with  ̶ including the performances.

McCraney is regarded as one of the most talented and significant writers in the US. He is the Chair, and Professor in the Practice of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama; and is the Yale Repertory Theatre Playwright-in-Residence. He is also a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects Theater Company in Miami, a member of Chicago’s highly regarded Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, and 2016’s  Moonlight is based on his own work In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. With his co-writer, director Barry Jenkins, they received the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Age Recommendation:16 (L)            

Season: until Sunday 28 February 2022

Venue: Mannie Manim at the Market

Performance times:     Tuesday – Saturday @7pm and Sunday @3.15 pm.

LOVESICK IS THE MAGIC WORD THAT GOT HIS MIND WANDERING FOR HIS LATEST SHOW, LOVESICK TIM

The fun of a Nataniël interview is always the unexpected.

PICTURES: NICOLAAS SWART

THE fun of a Nataniël interview is always the unexpected. DIANE DE BEER shares some of the fairy dust he always has in his pocket:

Being the journalist, one would expect that I would come up with some surprises when doing yet another interview, especially as we have had to do so many through the years.

But Nataniël is so entertaining – whether on stage in a packed hall or with an audience of one – it never occurs to me.

Of course, I always forget about the masses of creativity coursing through his veins, and his ability to turn anything into a moment of magic – both for himself and those he has to entertain.

So this time, when discussing the time and place to chat about his latest show, he suggested we dress up and meet in one of his wardrobes where he stores only a fraction of his costumes and accessories from decades gone by.

It’s an apartment now packed with Nataniël costumes and other valuable mementoes from his unimaginably busy life.

Always in the mood for play, I selected one of my brightest outfits, sent through the colour scheme so that he could clash or subtly enhance the picture we were planning to produce from this working meeting – not party mind you, even if you see tea and cakes!

It’s a new time for an artist who has been producing his life on and off stage, mostly very publicly but with a private side that is fiercely guarded.

As for many around the globe, his world was flung into orbit with the pandemic and everything that came tumbling down around our well-ordered lives.

Nataniël with one of his many detailed costumes I covet!

Especially as he marches to what many might see as the latter stages of his career, there had to be a quick turnaround to adjust expectations and to reset future plans from those that had become improbable.

Re-ordering and remaking his world started with scaling down, which meant, amongst other things, cleaning up both his personal space and, as is his wont, also the greater planet out there.

Nataniël has been stripping his life for quite some time, but now there is an urgency which doesn’t allow for single-purpose plastic̶ –  ̶̶ or over-used costumes for that matter.

Repurpose and recycle is what drives him today and as far as he goes, he spreads the message. None of his disciples would dare venture on a shopping trip without their personal shopping bags and everyone who watches his lifestyle programmes on kykNET will be aware that this is someone who as much as he loves food, has also trained his body and mind into a healthy way of being – to his and the planet’s benefit.

With his costumes sorted for the moment, in a place that allows for all the right conditions, he visits this apartment high up (“so that no insects can get to them”) making new plans. For the future, he dreams about a fashion museum and a setup that allows for art installations.

“We don’t have a culture that cares for the past,” he muses, but what he wants to display is the artistry of true technicians trained in fields that are hardly nurtured anymore and might disappear in the future.

And when I start looking through the costumes, most of them still trigger memories of past shows. At the same time, their details are overwhelming and were rarely seen from the auditorium. And still, not a sequin or button was left out because it was all part of the bigger picture.

For Nataniël it is about the inspirational, the way he has been dressed by designers as kings, disciples and prophets for example, always in period in a manner that isn’t visible in today’s world.

Some of these costumes can be reshaped and modelled into something different and new because, as someone who in the past was passionate about shopping, discovering new delights (usually to dish out to friends), what kept him enthralled was the creativity and novelty that he could find in many unique and treasured Aladdin’s Caves.

This type of lifestyle was anathema to the Covid era and Nataniël, true to type, also shifted in his head and discovered his own way of dressing his world. Once he started scratching around and asking his designer (for example) what he had been doing with all the left-over fabric of past seasons and found they were all carefully stored, he discovered endless drawers and rooms in his own house filled with every type of fabric and accessory he could hope for.

He was also driven by the lack of travel, as well as the fact that distribution hassles meant the sudden halt of novelty items. He knew he would simply have to create his own and he could do this in a sustainable way. No more buying needlessly. The motto driving him is to use imagination and innovation, something which has always been his loadstar.

His  latest stage creation, LOVESICK TIM, will be presented at Pretoria’s ATTERBURY THEATRE from 11 to 14 February 2022. Four nights only, ending on Valentine’s Day and sadly it has already been booked out. (But check the latest dates still available below).

And because he is guided not by the obvious, the name of the show was determined by his passion for the word “lovesick”. “I have always had problems with love songs because the lyrics are so awful!” but with lovesick, he thought it would allow him a certain latitude. “I will feature love songs from the earliest of times to the very latest of trends, the jazz of the 40s, the crooners of the 50s, the freedom of the 60s, the heartbreak of the 70s and the never-ending evolution of love and chaos in pop culture,” he says.

He searched for songs containing the much-loved word, but also wrote a love song himself and discovered some music that boasts a narrative rather than a repetition of silly love lyrics.

As always ,the stories will steal the thunder because Nataniël has a way of meandering in magic and melancholy which few others can achieve.

He will be accompanied by Charl du Plessis (piano), Werner Spies (bass) and Peter Auret (drums).

Costumes are by Floris Louw, with the added flourish that they will be ‘green’, repurposed and recharged from carefully stored fabrics and vintage collections. They have been declared a feast for the eye, but made with a reworked responsibility.

Tea for two with much magic and merriment.

LOVESICK TIM

11 – 14 Feb 2022

Atterbury Theatre, Pretoria

www.seatme.co.za

Sold out

LOVESICK TIM

17 – 19 February 2022

Drostdy Theatre, Stellenbosch

Computicket

Bookings open

LOVESICK TIM

Atterbury Theatre, Pretoria

23 – 25 June 2022

www.seatme.co.za

Bookings open

These seats fly, don’t wait and be sorry.

TEKSMARK ENCOURAGES AND CELEBRATES ESTABLISHED AND EMERGING VOICES ON STAGE

It was time for the annual Teksmark presented by the Klein Karoo Arts Festival (KKNK) with the support of the Nasionale Afrikaanse Teater Inisiatief (NATI) and The Baxter, almost as 2021 was bowing out. DIANE DE BEER reviews:

PICTURES: Nardus Engelbrecht

A scene from Jane Mpholo’s The Dawn.

It’s one of my favourite events because of the voices that emerge and the insights gained about what some theatre makers (established and emerging) are thinking at this time.

And at this time has more meaning than in any time because of the state of the world – on many different levels. We’re now fully emerged in a pandemic that doesn’t want to leave and the way this has impacted those who want to tell stories or find writing therapeutic (or whatever drives particular playwrights) is fascinating.

It is also the diversity of the participants, not only in age and gender but also in race or cultural group – all of which have an impact on the stories they tell.

Teksmark is an initiative started by the artistic director of the KKNK, Hugo Theart, because he wanted to encourage new writers to feed the festivals of the future. But as the event became more and more established, everyone agreed that they had to expand with the the inclusion of  all the official languages. This has made a huge difference which throws up many different issues, with language, claiming stories and diversity all part of the mix.

As I wrote last year, a clutch of debut plays are selected for possible further development and short extracts are featured by selected directors and casts.

For me the impact was felt in a quiet confidence that emerged strongly this year. It was as if young voices (especially of black and brown writers) have claimed their stories. As one of the participants remarked before presenting her play, in the past, it was as if they were explaining themselves to white people.

This time she wanted to write on blackness. That’s a huge shift in a country with our past, and everyone benefits. The more people show their truth, the more understanding and empathy is fostered, one of the strengths of theatre and storytelling.

Staahn Uit die Water Uit by mercy Kannemeyer (left) and Semels by Miandra Hayward.

A good example of this was two plays on domestic workers. The one came from a white perspective (Semels) which has been the more traditional route in the past and the other (Staan Uit die Water Uit) tells a story of a domestic worker who dies in a car accident together with her white employer, which results in the return of the coloured daughter who wants to collect all her mother’s belongings.

All these voices have legitimacy, but it is time to hear the authenticity of the voices of the previously disadvantaged as they share their point of view about their lives – not as seen through the eyes and lives of others. And that’s the difference.

The other growth element that has become part of the annual Teksmark is that many different playwriting endeavours are included, enriching the overall experience and encouraging the different disciplines to reach out to one another – to learn and grow.

Part of this is a series of plays from the Suidoosterfees Nati Rising Star Project. These are young playwrights who attended a writing school in the Eastern Cape led by Abduragman Adams through the Jakes Gerwel Foundation.

 The Stellenbosch University Drama Department Première Atelier is another participant with the Woordfees initiative Theatre Writing Laboratory which offered writers an income with the aim of providing better-quality new performance-ready texts adding further depth, with two of their texts in the final selection.

The project has also been expanded with Teksmark Oudtshoorn, specifically focussed on delivering stories from the region and providing a platform for storytellers and writers from the town. An international sister project called Tekstmarkt also came to life bringing writers from South Africa and the Netherlands together to develop stories for international audiences.

Sleeping with the Enemy by Lwanda Sindhaphi.

Navigating this world that is still taking shape as the shackles of apartheid are loosened but not yet cast away, one of the returning playwrights, Lwanda Sindhaphi, presented us with dilemmas that are specific to those who were forced to live in specified spaces in the past. Perhaps the title, Sleeping with the Enemy, gives a hint of things to come but many different issues are at play.

From the obvious sleeping with the enemy when moving out of the township to the different stances towards this apartheid-designated living space, it’s always fascinating to walk in the other’s shoes  ̶  especially when lives are both physically and mentally so far removed, as is often the case here.

Sindhaphi writes about himself and his people as he highlights stories that many of us would never have thought of or experienced. Theatre is such an amazing space to navigate these kinds of stories – for those who share them as well as for those who discover new ways of looking at life and our fellow countrymen.

Stephren Saayman’s Dankie, Maar Nee Dankie.

In similar vein, Stephren Saayman’s Dankie, Maar Nee Dankie approaches coloured stereotypes from an hysterical vantage point as he has three middle-class families entering a competition to select three perfect coloured representative families for the perfect rainbow nation. This should already have you giggling and gasping as he subtly shows up the audacity of those telling the stories of others and in the process turning to stereotypes.

Nipped in the Butt by Nisa Smit (left) and What Happens in Russia… by Michaela Weir (right)

Two young playwrights, Michaela Weir (What Happens in Russia) and Nisa Smit (Nipped in the Butt), had as much fun with their smart words on stage as when discussing their work. They both underlined the strength of spirited plays with a youthfulness that is wise, witty and wonderful.

Wessel Pretorius (left) and Wilhelm van der Walt (right) in Philip Theron’s Die Kontemporêre Kunskomplot.

A personal favourite was the brilliant and insightful work by Philip Theron, who previously worked in film rather than on stage. His text, Die Kontemporêre Kunskomplot was as inspired as his casting and direction with the state of play between Wessel Pretorius and Wilhelm van der Walt pure joy to watch. It was comic timing to cherish and something that should be recreated for the future.

Other pieces ranged from an unusual portrait of Beyers Naudé (Oom Bey, My Pa by Henque Heymans) in conversation with the former activist’s daughter, to a searing interplay (in Blood Bonds by Vuyokazi Ngemntu) between Steven Biko and the 12 year old African American Timor Rice who was shot by a policeman because he was carrying a toy gun, to two community driven pieces, Jane Mpholo’s The Dawn, which explores gender-based violence, arguably the biggest scourge in our country, in innovative and powerful fashion and Heloine Armstrong’s Maanskyn en Dorings, which investigates the impact of mental health problems and how it affects individuals.

That’s just some of  the diversity and delights of the annual Teksmark, which grows and expands each year and excites everyone who participates and attends. It’s an artistic injection in a time when everyone is scrambling to keep the industry alive and even if many think this is impossible, it’s the only way to keep moving – one step at a time.

And for the arts and storytelling that has always been enough. Or as the Non Executive Chair of the KKNK, Crispin Sonn, said in his opening remarks: What we need is resilience and tenacity.

It was seen here in abundance.

SAMSA-MASJIEN SHOWS AGEING AS PART OF THE LIFE CYCLE CHALLENGING BOTH YOUNG AND OLD

If you tune into the KKNK website, one of the many delights you will find is the route and tickets to a filmed version of Jaco Bouwer’s brilliant if disturbing Samsa-masjien written by Willem Anker and starring the brilliant Antoinette Kellermann and Gerben Kamper.

DIANE DE BEER reviews:

Gerben Kamper and Antoinette Kellermann

Most of us have or had ageing parents and will be ageing at some stage. That’s exactly what Samsa-masjien is dealing with.

When our parents are ageing, the process that becomes part of the children’s lives in some way can be either a joyous or troubling one. And often, it is in the hands of those who are younger to determine the outcomes.

The parents ageing are in most cases exactly who they are, they’re not going to change and you simply have to decide where and how you’re going to fit into the process.

When I first saw this production live, I was dealing with ageing parents and very vulnerable about the whole subject because it doesn’t matter how you regard your parents or how much work you do to deal with what may lie ahead, nothing can really prepare you for the process.

But what I had come to realise (with films like The Savages) and with dealing with people hoping to age gracefully, is that dignity is something everyone – those ageing and those caring – hope to cling onto. But it’s not easy.

So when I first experienced Samsa-masjien, I could hardly breathe being so overwhelmed. It was in fact only with a second viewing that I became aware of Pierre-Henri Wicomb’s emotive sound recordings which are almost like an invisible yet very present character – especially in the live performance.

Samsa-masjien with Ilana Cilliers

What Willem Anker did with the text was quite astonishing, as he honed into the basest of emotions when dealing with something as overwhelming as this particular human condition, which most of us will be subjected to at some stage in our lives from different vantage points.

Witnessing this on film felt to me much different – not better or worse – but different and which one you prefer will be a very individual rather than an artistic choice.

What Bouwer (who since this production was first staged live at the KKNK has focussed more on film than live theatre) decided was to shoot this play as often in close-up as he could manage – or that is what it feels like. And I suspect he was right because the thing with this topic and particular play is that you have to find yourself in the midst of this particular emotional storm because that’s what it is.

And since writing the review, I had the chance to listen in to a discussion that artistic director Hugo Theart had with Anke,  Bouwer and Wicomb which explained a lot about the process as well as the recording. This was followed later by a discussion with the cast which was as insightful. (both of these are available on the KKNK website

Samsa-masjien was in fact recorded during the Baxter Theatre run in 2015 for archival purposes, which Bouwer had started doing with his work, including Rooiland and Balbesit. (Can we please see those too?)

The way they did it was to shoot a couple of hours before every performance. “It wasn’t meant to be seen,” says Bouwer but fortunately for those of us who relished another viewing or even first-time viewers, Theart could twist his arm.

It is one of the few theatre advantages during Covid that more attention is being paid to online productions and in many instances especially in a country where theatre-makers are always struggling, that’s a good thing. There are many one-off shows for example in Joburg which I can’t make but which I would love to see. It’s also a solution to those theatre makers who struggle with producing remarkable plays for a festival and then it doesn’t travel any further.

But to get back to the production, everyone in this story is busy with their own drama because it’s as much as they can deal with.

Ludwig Binge in Samsa-Masjien

The ageing father (Gerben Kamper) is losing his mind, while his wife (Antoinette Kellermann) is trying her best to keep him safe and allow him to age gracefully. His daughter (Ilana Cilliers) is battling with what is happening to her parents and her husband (Herman Binge) doesn’t think any of this is his problem. He is already providing her parents with a place to stay. Nothing more required. They seem to be cool, calm and collected throughout the unravelling process – but obviously that’s not the case.

It’s a remarkable text (Kafka-inspired and with many different layers to delve into) with Bouwer always a visual thinker and a cast to die for. Bouwer was the first to admit that especially for the actors portraying the ageing parents, these are not easy characters to play.

But his choices were easy because few actors have the courage that these two displayed. All four actors are perfectly cast, but especially Kamper and Kellermann as the parents because of the vulnerability of the characters and the players bringing them to life. It is simply astonishing and contributes to what is essentially an ensemble piece with those on and off stage involved.

It’s not an easy piece to watch but something all of us should heed as it will be part of our lives in some form. And who knows, with enough care and understanding we might even make it a smooth process for everyone involved.

But not in this tale where the children are hosting a dinner party upstairs while the parents are sinking deeper and deeper into the obscurity of their own world below the surface – unseen, or so everyone believes.

Anyone who has walked into a retirement home (previously known  as old-age home) recently will understand that feeling of  displacement as you pass cheerful souls in the passage and people eager to see if they know you or can start a conversation.

It takes me back to boarding school.  I didn’t want to be part of that tribe then and I have no desire to repeat anything vaguely described as group activity in this lifetime.

But as my mother said to me in those tough years: “We are your children now. And I know you never wanted any!”

And that’s the irony of life. There are many things we simply have no say in. They’re given to us and usually at a time when we’re least prepared. Ageing is one of those and watching people die is at its best one of the toughest things you will be asked to do.

So watch Samsa-masjien. No one wants to go through the worst of it and at least, with some thoughtfulness, you can complete this life cycle with the gentleness required.

Go to the KKNK website for tickets and viewing.

A FEISTY PLAY FOR A FEISTY ACTRESS: CAMILLA WALDMAN DIRECTED BY MALCOLM PURKEY

The Market is celebrating its 45th year. This isn’t a time for the usual festivities associated with these kind of landmarks, but artistic director James Ngcobo has decided to be smart about his choices in honouring the iconic theatre in a way that pays tribute to both the people and the place. With that in mind, previous artistic director Malcolm Purkey and an actor who had close links with The Market in the past, Camilla Waldman, are presenting playwright Martin Sherman’s one-woman tour-de-force Rose (he is perhaps best remembered for Bent) until May 16. DIANE DE BEER spoke to the two artists:

The glorious Camilla Waldman in Rose

PICTURES: Suzy Bernstein

While both director Malcolm Purkey and actor Camilla Waldman had worked on solo productions many, many moons ago, they are thrilled to be engaging with a work so exciting, in a time when everyone is itching to get out there. For these two passionate storytellers, it’s what they love doing best.

Handed the play and the actor, Purkey is especially thrilled that both of these have come together in such an extraordinary fashion. “I have discovered that to work solo, you need an extremely strong script,” says Waldman and that’s exactly what she has been given with the extraordinary woman she is in  the process of portraying and getting to know inside out.

These two artists have never worked together on stage even though they have worked together, with Purkey an external examiner when she was still studying and then the Dean of Afda, when she was appointed lecturer.

Purkey describes Rose as a Jewish production, yet the woman of the title is anything but traditional. “She’s 86 years old, had three husbands and is involved with a much younger hippie lover. She explores black magic and tests Oriental religions amongst others by visiting a Buddhist retreat!”

But where he really lost his heart was in the script. “It’s excellent writing and we had a great time exploring Rose’s interior life,” he says.

Camilla Walman as Rose

The other thing that pleased him was the streak of Jewish comedy that runs through the piece. Rose didn’t have an easy life but she is forever playing with wit. “Both Camilla and I knew we could work with that.” And in these often troubling times, even when we work with issues, it would be good to laugh along the way.

Rose lived a full if sometimes exhausting life and the story told here is described as both tragic and brilliant. And because of her 86 years, most of what she experienced covers pretty much the highlights of the past century.

That was also one of the reasons they decided not to cut the text but rather present it with an interval. “It’s a very delicate text,” says Purkey. It was difficult to select any cuts which is an indication of the writing. “We decided to keep it largely intact,” says Waldman who realises this will be quite a marathon session for performer and audience.

But can anyone who loves theatre think of anything more exciting than experiencing live theatre again? Every once in a while something pops out but we’re nowhere back to where we were early in 2020, when the pandemic was just beginning to emerge and we didn’t yet have any clue of the extent of what we were about to experience.

If the play has a familiar ring to it, Annabel Linder performed in the acclaimed play almost 20 years ago and Waldman, who is a huge fan of Linder and has worked with her a few times in the past, was hoping to have a conversation with her. “But time pressure didn’t allow for any of that,” she wails – and that’s usually what happens in these cramped rehearsal times where actors and their directors simply have to press on at breakneck speed. And probably now even more than before.

Both of them are old hands at this game and know how to work at achieving the magic. That’s what makes this such an exciting venture. In the past, Waldman was one of those actors who could slip into different roles with consummate ease. And in the pictures of Rose (being so much older) she is hardly recognisable. Purkey is back in his old playground and happy to be there, even allowing for all the restraints and deadlines.

With this rich and evocative script, and their double dose of experience, Purkey and Waldman make a formidable team. Waldman also knows that this is a character that will keep growing. “It’s a wonderful chance to honour the beautiful writing,” she elaborates. She knows she has still has a lot of work to do and accepts that she will birth it during the run and just keep growing. It’s that kind of text.

Being who she is, she will give it every fibre of her being to get it right! If you’re more familiar with her work on television, do yourself a favour and witness this remarkable actress on stage. We haven’t seen enough of her in recent years while the  younger generation have benefitted from her teaching and coaching.

But personally I believe on stage is where the sparks fly – for both actor and director.

Bookings:

Season:                                                Friday 23 April – 16 May 2021

Venue:                                                 Barney Simon Theatre

Performance times:                             Tuesday – Saturday @19h00 and Sunday @15h15

Ticket prices:   Tuesday – Thursday R90.00 Friday – Saturday R150.00 and Sunday R130.00

ACTOR SANDRA PRINSLOO CAPTURES THE FRAILTY OF OLD AGE IN ELSA JOUBERT’S MEMOIR SPERTYD

DIANE DE BEER

Pictures: Robert A Hamblin

SPERTYD

Sandra Prinsloo as Elsa Joubert in Spertyd
TEXT ADAPTATION/DIRECTING: Philip Rademeyer
ACTOR: Sandra Prinsloo
PRODUCERS: Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck and Alexa Strachan
DATES and times: Tonight 8pm; Thursday April 22 8pm; Friday April 23 8pm;
Saturday April 24 3pm and 8pm; Sunday April 25 2pm
VENUE: Atterbury Theatre
BOOKINGS: https://seatme.co.za/tc-events/spertyd-met-sandra-prinsloo/

AGEING is not for sissies … and that was writer Elsa Joubert’s big battle as she seemed to hurtle towards yet another of those big numbers so revered –  not by but seemingly of the elderly.

There’s also a glaring difference in the ageing of those between 60 and 80 and those above 80, she argues, as her children get busy planning her 90th birthday.

And she isn’t even sure she wants to participate in any celebrations!

It all began with the death of her husband Klaas, trying to adapt to a life without him, then her choice to move to an old-age home with losses of many different kinds looming large.

It starts with a family home swapped for a single room, the loss of mobility and, perhaps more than anything, the loss of independence as your world becomes smaller by the day.

Words and writing are her closest friends.

She is in mourning for her life, the one that is gone, that which is disappearing and she wants to hold onto. She has to work hard at letting go and finding a new source of inspiration. Writing and reading remain her close friends and are probably what pulls her through until she can see the light.

Adapting a book of 200 pages plus and capturing the essence in a script of 20 pages is tricky but director/writer Rademeyer has cleverly focussed on what he felt would best get to the heart of what Joubert was trying to say.

It has to do with acceptance and focussing on the small miracles that become lost in a world where everyone is rushing past. Ageing halts you in your tracks. It gives you time to breathe, to take in the world around you. It could be seen as a life gone by and also a future that might deprive you of the freedoms of the past – yet open up a new world where life slows down and gives you the chance to behold and to cherish.

This isn’t an easy text to play, with Joubert finding it especially tough to adapt and to accept the hand she has been dealt. Who would have known that this woman of such accomplishments (Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena for example) would suffer such anxiety in old age – a time when one could possibly savour everything you have achieved.

But Prinsloo knows how to tell this story. By the time she and Rademeyer stepped into the rehearsal space, they had both spent time refining the text in different ways and they knew where they were headed and what they hoped to achieve.

Philip Rademeyer in repetition. Picture Stephanie Gericke

It’s the peaks and troughs that she navigates so seamlessly as she takes you to a world either you yourself – or your parents – might be approaching. And as Rademeyer, still a young man, says, the story brings empathy for something all of us will experience in some form.

It is through the movement, her laughter, her initial obstinacy which grows to acceptance that the story is given life. And then you can savour Joubert’s words, her struggle to find solace and finally her wonderment as she moves closer to the meaning of especially that which has become her life.

Prinsloo is a master at getting under the skin of a character. And with this not her first woman navigating old age, she had to find the uniqueness of the writer’s voice, her way of coming to terms with a life she feels so diminished.

And finally, as Joubert understands so miraculously, you have to find meaning for yourself and it isn’t in the ageing process. But if you look, listen and open your heart, it’s there. There’s something about the frailty we have as babies when we first arrive in this world, which returns in all its tenderness at the end of our lives.

It’s a quiet production in which the story and how it is told is what overwhelms you. And again Prinsloo as always has the final word. She tells it with heartfelt honesty and finally a gracefulness that embraces Joubert’s world and the riches it still has to offer.

SOLO QUEEN SANDRA PRINSLOO TEAMS UP WITH DIRECTOR PHILIP RADEMEYER FOR SPERTYD

Sandra Prinsloo has this past decade proved her weight in gold as someone who easily slips into a solo show, packs a punch because she knows how to pick them and pulls in the audiences because of her track record. Her latest production is based on the Elsa Joubert memoir Spertyd (Cul-De-Sac) which deals with the author’s aversion to ageing which will be performed at Pretoria’s Atterbury Theatre from April 20 to 25. DIANE DE BEER speaks to Philip Rademeyer who adapted the book as well as directed the play:

In rehearsal with director Philip Rademeyer and actress Sandra Prinsloo

After director/playwright Philip Rademeyer had read Elsa Joubert’s book, he knew he wanted to both adapt and direct the play.

While his parents aren’t old, they are ageing and just on the first reading he already had more insight, he says about Joubert’s memoir Spertyd (Cul de Sac) which deals with her personal ageing process.

But he also relished the opportunity at a second chance to direct the stunning Sandra Prinsloo, who had previously been part of the Soebatsfontein cast. This solo production would give him the opportunity again to work with someone whose art and work ethic he admired.

“I was quite intimidated the first time round,” he explains, but in the meantime he had experienced in full force Prinsloo’s humanity – a rare human being. He knew this was going to be a learning experience with rich rewards. “She has such a wealth of experience,” he notes and that doesn’t even take into account her abundant talent.

Take-out time: Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck, Sandra Prinsloo and Philip Rademeyer.

Because of lockdown, he was given the time to spend on the script as well as the collaboration of Prinsloo and producers Alexa Strachan and Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck. It doesn’t get  much better than that.

The problems started with an adaptation that meant stripping a memoir of 200 pages into a script of 20. “We decided early on that the focus would be as the author herself described it, “a journey through the continent of ageing”.

He had the luxury of reworking one draft after the next until everybody was satisfied or as close as they could achieve.

It also meant that by the time he and Prinsloo stepped into the rehearsal room they had really worked through the text over and over again. “We were already on the same page,” he says. And they had by that time determined that she wasn’t going to try to replicate Elsa Joubert.

Sandra Prinsloo as Elsa Joubert in Spertyd. Picture Robert A Hamblin

“We worked with the woman we found in the text”, as well as trying to differentiate this latest character from another ageing character Prinsloo had previously portrayed in Die Naaimasjien.

What appealed to Rademeyer about the memoir was Joubert’s directness about and dislike of ageing. “I don’t think we should be in denial,” he says. “I liked that she was so honest about her limitations.” And it was this loss the author experienced in a world that seemed to become painfully small and isolated from what she had experienced in an earlier life that they hoped to capture.

From a directing vantage, Rademeyer is all about giving the performer the best advantage to tell their story. The first challenge was the space and the 95-year-old Joubert whom Prinsloo had to inhabit.

Spertyd with Sandra. Picture Robert A Hamblin

Prinsloo is a young 70-ish, so both her movement and youthfulness had to be curtailed. “I couldn’t do quick scene changes with her running across the room,” says the director.

He was also aware that his insecurities probably hampered their first encounter.

This time round he could wallow in their personal engagement as well as marvelling at her work process. “She doesn’t take anything for granted,” he says, and realised that those who sustain their careers for this length of time achieve that longevity with hard work. “It’s all about her talent and the person she is.”

In the end, what they hoped to achieve was to heighten the state of captivity the writer felt as her life, because of many different factors, seemed to diminish – slowly but surely.

It is a reminder of the Churchill quote that intially the world was his stage. This changed to his country, then his home, his room and finally his bed.

And that was the image Rademeyer held onto when he was imagining both the physical and mental picture of Joubert’s state of mind about ageing. “We created this single room to suggest her world inside – and that of the outside world.”

Looking back at the process and the experience, Rademeyer believes that he feels much more caring about older people. When you’re young, you’re irritated by the slow speed of ageing people, he explained. But now he has a much gentler eye. “We’re all on our way there,” he says with much more understanding.

That is what he hopes this play will do for both young and old – remind them to be mindful both of what was and what will be. “It brings you up close to your own mortality,” he says. And it’s a reminder of how to treat older people.

“You should treat them as you would like to be respected when you get there,” he concludes.

Looking ahead, he is mindful of the time just past and where we find ourselves right now. 2020 wasn’t a bad year because he had both the Spertyd script and production. There was also less awareness of the damage to come due to Covid-19.

Philip Rademeyer in repetition. Picture Stephanie Gericke

But now he is tired of the isolation, battles with the loss and loneliness of creativity and hopes to find inspiration in the future. But as a creative, he knows things will change and he is determined to wow audiences with large casts and big issues.

It’s time to grapple with the problems of our time, he believes. And he knows the audiences are there to support their work.

Here’s holding thumbs.

In the meantime, Spertyd will be playing at the Atterbury Theatre from April 20 to 25 and move to the Suidoosterfees in Cape Town from April 29.

Hopefully once the festival circuit is up and running again, Spertyd will travel far and wide and like the book that was translated as Cul-De-Sac, the play might also eventually be translated to reach a wider audience.