Internationally celebrated playwright Athol Fugard returns to the theatre bearing his name with his new play: a story inspired by farm worker Nukain Mabuza (played by Tshamano Sebe) – a self-taught artist living in segregated pre-liberation SA.
Nukain has spent his life transforming the rocks on a koppie at Revolver Creek into a garden of painted flowers. Aided by his young companion Bokkie, Nukain confronts his last challenge to paint the huge boulder at the summit. Yet before long, the landowner’s wife, Elmarie Kleynhans (Anna-Mart van der Merwe) arrives and makes demands about the painting, laying bare the profound rifts of a country hurtling towards the end of apartheid. When Bokkie – now known as Jonathan Sejake (Sne Dladla) – returns years later, it is to confront the legacy Revolver Creek left him as a young man trying to find his place in the new South Africa.
‘The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek’ is co-directed by Fugard and Paula Fourie and is showing at the Fugard Theatre until September 24.
Peter Tromp caught up with the cast.
Why should theatregoers be excited for the production?
Van der Merwe: It is the iconic South African playwright, Athol Fugard’s latest play that premiered in New York at the Signature Theatre last year. Come and listen to the voices of South Africans in a way that only Fugard can capture them, in such a full, rounded and profound way. We need to start talking and truly listen to each other.
What has it been like working under director Athol Fugard?
Dladla: It’s been absolutely incredible. I’m only 25 and I’m one of the very few people in the world that has gotten to work with a man of his calibre. He’s shown me levels that one can only imagine. You learn to look at the finer details and shape things about your work that you would never normally think about.
Tell us a little about your character and how you have gone about realising her/him.
Sebe: As the story and character are based on a real person’s life, I had to do a lot of research. I also had to dig deep within myself and my emotions to connect with him.
Van der Merwe: She is religious, loves the land and is the kind of woman you can also rely upon. Active in the community, she’s kind of woman you want in your cake baking team for the church bazaar.
Dladla: He is very political and a humanitarian at heart. The story of Jonathan has plot lines that are so similar to my dad’s life story. I often speak to my father to hear about his stories of how he grew up and find out more about the things that he cares about.
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