In search of a broken sheep

Kolskoot Visagie
AS I lay dying: Cry of a frightened sheep is central to the tragedy in Kolskoot Visagie.

THE STAIN OF a great tragedy doesn’t readily – or perhaps ever – lose its penetrative impact on any of the people who it touched. This is the thread that binds the contemporary characters with the historical ones in Christopher Joynt’s new Afrikaans radio play, Kolskoot Visagie, a tale of sheep farmers and massive tragedy, conveyed with wisdom and biblical proportions.

Not for the faint of heart, or the easily traumatised, this story is told with grit and angst, but never loses its step in becoming maudlin or melodramatic. It’s a tale within a tale told by an older man, Oom Giel (Jacques Bosch) to his nephew (Lochner de Kock), in a contemporary framework, about a moral catastrophe that happened in the 1940s.

And as the narrative switches to the wholesomeness of a married couple in 1948 – Barend (Paul Lückhoff) and his wife Mara (Ria Smit), and their 20-year-old son Willie (Luan Jacobs), so you become embroiled in the texture, values and heartiness of their lives. The work is characterised by vistas of music which give you an understanding of the hugeness of the landscape with great eloquence.

With a focus on the most horrendous quandary a person can face, there’s a parallel with the Abraham and Isaac challenge presented by God in the Old Testament. You may think of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s extrapolation of the same theme in his text Fear and Trembling and you wouldn’t be wrong: Either way, in Christopher Joynt’s version, there’s a spin on the consequences that will sit with you for a long time, because you are a human being.

An absolutely beautifully crafted work which offers a full-bodied understanding of space and time, love and morality, Kolskoot Visagie is unequivocally so far the finest piece of Afrikaans theatre staged on radio, this year.

  • Kolskoot Visagie (Marksman Visagie) is written by Christopher Joynt. Directed by Renske Jacobs, and featuring technical input by Patrick Monana and Bongiwe Thomas, it is performed by Jacques Bosch, Lochner de Kock, Luan Jacobs, Paul Lückhoff and Ria Smit, and debuts on Radio Sonder Grense, 100-104FM on Thursday June 14 at 8pm. The play will be rebroadcast on RSG’s all night programme, Deurnag, at 1am on Monday, June 18 and is also available on podcast:

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Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years. This blog promises you new stories every week, be they reviews, profiles, news stories or features.

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