‘Kaapse Stories from the Mother City’, the show in residency at Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro in Seapoint that opened its doors last year, earlier this week celebrated their 150th show after little more than eight months. PETER TROMP sat down with three of the cast members, namely RUTH MARLEY, GERMANDT GELDENHUYS and MPUMI SIZANI about the journey they have travelled with the show so far.
What does it mean to you guys have made it to 150 shows, especially in a theatre climate where shows sometimes don’t even make it past their first week?
Germandt (G): Well, it’s obviously a milestone, but it is also a testament to the quality of the show and the performers that we have managed to rack up that amount of shows in such a short time, and is still going strong.
You guys all undertook this journey from the start. How did it initially take shape?
Ruth (R): Through many, many rehearsals with our director Basil Appollis.
G: We built the house with Basil, but with the help of Richard Loring we started to decorate that house.
Mpumi (M): We’ve grown a lot and audience members who saw the show at the beginning and again where it is now have responded positively to the changes we’ve made.
G: One thing that hasn’t changed is that the show remains as Capetonian as can be. It was important to preserve the local flavour.
Can you tell us about some of the most important changes?
G: You know how they say that life imitates art? Well the opposite is true with ‘Kaapse Stories’. There’s a lot more of ourselves that have been poured into our characters and I believe it makes for a more authentic experience for the audience.
R: Every show is exciting because every audience is different and we feed off of them. It is a very interactive show, but we’ve reached a stage now as performers where we are a lot more comfortable in dealing with different kinds of audiences, whether they are quiet or loud.
P: Also, we add new things to the show all the time, whether it is new songs or a different way of performing the older songs, so you never get the same show twice.
I attended one of the opening nights in July last year and remember Loring saying that the show has been conceived primarily with the international tourist market in mind. Are tourists still the primary target audience?
G: I would say to a degree they are, but then again we want Capetonians to also feel an affinity with the Kleintjies family, whose story we tell in the show. When you say “tourist” we also think of visitors to Cape Town from other parts of South Africa, or even somebody visiting the city from Durbanville. It has to appeal and be accessible to as many people as possible.
Tell us about your individual characters and how they have developed.
R: My character, Bergie Ruth, is stronger than when we started. I have also become bolder in my performance, but that’s natural as you become more confident in a role.
P: My character is a friend of the Kleintjies family and she’s along for the ride all the way. I would say that I feel more secure in my role as well.
G: My character has been scaled back, somewhat. When we started out, he was so obsessed with being accepted as a part of the Kleintjies family that it bordered on being aggressive. It took up a lot of the show, and perhaps that resulted in it being a bit unbalanced. It’s a lot more even now.
Can you elaborate on the music in ‘Kaapse Stories’ that forms such an important part of the show?
G: We tried to incorporate as many genres as possible to suit as many tastes as possible. It’s a Cape show, but Cape music isn’t just ghoema. It’s a melting pot of cultures and that’s reflected in the song selections.
R: Ruth, my character, was a copycat singer during the time when many of the international artists wouldn’t tour South Africa and that forms a big part of the show. So with the Cape Town music you also have a lot of Western music included in the mix like Gloria Gaynor and Queen.
You guys don’t shy away from Cape Town’s unpleasant past in the show. How do you make our sordid history palatable to overseas visitors who might only have wanted a good laugh?
R: Our people have always taken the good with the bad and turned it into comedy, so that is reflected in the show. It is educational for international visitors, because they walk away with a far better understanding of what it was like in Cape Town under apartheid, but at the same time they’re invited to celebrate all that is Capetonian with us.
* Book at Computicket, or on 076 1444 809. Bookings can also be made through www.richardscapetown.co.za.