Not a lot of people know that when I first started out, I worked as an actor. Quelle surprise, right, I mean considering how shy and retiring I am? I started off working for a company called DramAIDe, doing drama in AIDS education in the rurals of KZN, acting in short plays and trying to educate peeps about HIV.
But when we moved up to Joburg, it was my chance to ACT which is what I had been wanting to do FOREVER. I landed myself an agent while I was still in Maritzburg just by sending a CV to a whole bunch of agents in Joburg. I eventually signed with Jaffit Management.
Sadly, I was unprepared for the acting scene. I had always thought of myself as a SERIOUS actor but I soon realized that the work that was available was mainly for musicals, kids’ theatre and TV adverts. I could dance and had a reasonable singing voice but very little experience, having really had a diet of mainly Brecht at university so I sat without work for about seven months.
Then Out of the Box – a very successful kids’ theatre company founded by Annie Barnes and bought by the Civic Theatre – was looking for actors and I was one of the four actors that was chosen for the company. It was me, Regina Ndlovu, Hannes Potgieter and Stanley Jacobs.
At the same time, I started doing stand-up comedy at what was then the Pianola Bar at the Civic under the direction of Maralin Van Renen. It was a vibrant time at the complex, not only was I acting in plays during the day and doing stand-up at night but I also put together a little Christmas carol a cappella group and we got paid to just set up and sing in the foyer over the festive season.
Our stint at the Civic only lasted for two years but I did get to perform the Yo Kids Holiday Show on the Main Stage over Christmas and I got to direct my first play – KwaNothando – that was so successful it came back for a second run. The cast for KwaNothando was Clementine Mosimane, Patronella Sello, (the late) Thulani Mtshali and Stanley Jacobs.
Stanley and I didn’t just work together at the Civic, we also ended up doing other stuff for Annie Barnes – and Stan was my assistant when I started my own kids’ theatre company called Powerhouse Productions that toured to schools – we worked together on it for two years and got a couple of lucrative contracts through Sparrow Schools from Rand Water and BHP Billiton to do industrial theatre.
Sadly, the Rand Water one was not renewed for a third time because the head of the department wanted to be paid a not so smallanyana bribe to give us the contract, and as I was unwilling to cough up, we didn’t get any more work from them.
So, my little company petered out and as I was busy having babies (always a time-consuming exercise), Stan and I lost touch – until a couple of years ago when he found me on social media. He seemed to have made a real success of his life, he did his master’s degree and was a much loved lecturer in the Performing Arts Department at TUT.
I had a hazy thought that one day, after the pandemic, Stan and I would catch up over a cup of coffee. It was not to be. Stan passed from Covid a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, he was on a ventilator for three weeks before he died. I was very moved by the heartfelt messages on his timeline from his former students, because at the end of the day that is what matters. That we loved and were loved, and Stanley was loved by everyone that knew him.
Rest in power, old friend. You are already missed.
TV/Film recommendations: Together Together which we watched on DSTV Box Office. I lurrrrrrved this movie. It stars Patti Harrison and Ed Helms and concerns a single guy who hires a surrogate because he wants to have a baby. It’s such a refreshing take and that ending! It really did surprise me. If you’re in the mood for an intelligent, heartwarming, feel good and very funny flick – this is one for you.
Book recommendations: The lovely Helen Holyoake sent me a copy of Unbecoming by Joanne Fedler. OH MY GOD, this book spoke to me! Another PERFECT book for Women’s Month, I literally wanted to get out my pen and underline bits and scribble in the margins.
Set in Australia, it tells the story of Jo who leaves her husband for a few months to go and sort her shit out and on her sabbatical meets old friend, Fiona and ends up going camping with a bunch of menopausal women. The issues she describes – the anger, the frustration over not being able to connect with her children, the feeling of always putting everyone else first, down to not even getting to watch the TV shows she wants to watch. It’s all so relatable, and beautifully written, with humour and pain and gorgeous descriptions of their journey. I loved it. Buy a copy for yourself and one for a friend.
Ps… Patronella Sello ended up being our producer for a short time on Muvhango, while Maralin Van Renen was a scriptwriter on the show and Clementine Mosimane currently acts in The Estate – where I am script editor.
PPs… As I was thinking about the original crew that started at the Civic, I realized that there were only a couple of us left. Annie died of cancer, the director, Francois from heart disease, Hannes died in a car crash and Covid took Stanley.
Don’t wait to have that cup of coffee with your friends.