Local geniuses localise British blockbuster play for Jozi stage

Local geniuses localise British blockbuster play for Jozi stage

‘A COCK & BULLshit STORY’, a localised reimagining of British playwrights Richard Zajdlic and Richard Crowe’s blockbuster play of the same name, is coming to Jozi after a successful run in Cape Town.
Directed and designed by Marthinus Basson and starring Edwin van der Walt and Dean John Smith, the production will be running at the Studio Theatre at Montecasino from June 8 to July 3.
At the hand of Quentin Krog – director of the film ‘Ballade for a Enkeling’ – and actor Geon Nel, the setting is transferred to contemporary suburban Cape Town.

Peter Tromp caught up with Basson on the eve of the production’s run.

Give us the lowdown on ‘a COCK & BULLshit STORY’. What attracted you to the project?
TJ (Dean-John Smith) is a young boxer with great potential. His buddy and trainer, Jaco (Edwin van der Walt) is a street fighter with gang connections. Both come from a background of trying socio-economic realities and boxing provides a way out. Together they are the (mostly) unbeatable TEAM. The previous fight didn’t go well and their dreams of Johannesburg, fame, fortune and an endless stream of willing girls have been on a back-burner since. A big-name Johannesburg promoter flew in to see TJ fight, so tonight is the night. But the evening will test their friendship to the utmost. Both will emerge from it as very different people.
It is that rare text that combines a deceptively simple surface with a gloriously dense substructure. It has an actor’s rhythm, due to it being workshopped over a period of eight months by the writers Richard Zajdlic and Richard Crowe. It is a wonderfully funny and deeply moving look at macho posturing, the limits of friendship, dependency, sexuality, lies, ambition and dreams.

SA theatre legend Marthinus Basson

SA theatre legend Marthinus Basson

Tell us about the cast you have assembled for the show and why audiences should be excited to see these young men on the planks.
Dean-John Smith and Edwin van der Walt were both students at Stelllenbosch Drama Department during my time there. Both are exceptionally gifted; both have made their mark within a year of leaving University.
Dean-John received, among several other awards and nominations, the Best Student Fleur du Cap in his second year for a performance in Edward Albee’s ‘Zoo Story’. He was recently seen at the Suidoosterfees in ‘Kristalvlakte’ and is currently shooting a movie.
Edwin was cast in ‘Hollywood in my Huis’ in his third year and caused a sensation in the industry. He has been the lead in five since, with ‘My Father’s War’ about to open any day now. Two more are being shot right now. He wanted to return to stage to extend himself as an actor. They happen to be good teammates, good friends, challenge each other and are a sheer joy to work with.

You have said many times in the past, not least to this publication when we last interviewed you, that you have no specific interest in theatre. What exactly do you mean by that? It’s an especially remarkable stance since you are one of our premiere theatre makers.
I stumbled into theatre by accident. I did not see much theatre, apart from “konserte” and so on, but later on, due to the Cape Performing Arts Council plays by Calderòn and Kohout that played the church hall, I was seriously fascinated (as spectator) with the worlds it opened up for me.

You won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fleur du Cap Awards a couple of years ago. Now that the dust has settled, how do you feel about that honour?
It is lovely to receive awards. Sometimes you get it for no good reason at all. I have no sense of what my contribution is supposed to be apart from the fact that the journey was unexpected, thrilling, tragic, sad, a challenge and joy. Much like life.

Three words you feel best describe you as an artist…
An artist, I?

* Book at Computicket.