And would you some jam on that, sir?

Sjarrap

WAITRESS and tea things, complete with black eye rings of exasperation. Photograph courtesy http://www.rsgplus.org

ANYONE WHO HAS suffered the busy indignity of having to be a waiter in a coffee shop will relate to this punchy, spicy little foray into the horror and sarcasm, the do’s and don’ts of this, one of the oldest professions in the book. More a monologue with vignettes, Sjarrap en eet jou kos! (Shut up and eat your food!) is a delightful Afrikaans-language radio theatre gem, which will have you laughing with gusto and weeping just a tad in the frisky nuanced approach taken by Ilné Fourie in its construction.

It’s an hilarious lament about poorly-behaved, indecisive, rude and ill-tipping customers and their children and or lovers – or their gossip pals, and as such, the work presents a portrait of Afrikaans culture, not withholding punches with its description and engagement with the different types of people. The vantage point of the ubiquitous waiter (played by Martelize Kolver) who is there to serve, but also often morphs into a proverbial fly on the wall, is a fascinating one, something which you may have tasted a suggestion of in works as diverse as Lionel Newton’s 2014 play Jasmine’s Jewel and Lauri Wylie’s (1963) film Dinner for One. It’s about taking the mundane, and lifting it, with incisive and witty observations, into art.

Under the gentle scathing of Fourie’s sharp pen, you get introduced to the ‘M & M’s (moedige – courageous – moms) who are relentless in peppering their language with diminutives, particularly in dealing with stroppy littlies. The ‘turtledoves’ are the newly infatuated who will share a cup of coffee while they toss embarrassingly syrupy sweetnesses to each other. And then there are the ‘vluister vroutjies’ (whispering little wives) who gather around their tea treats to indulge in exploring the doings and the screwings of their nearest and dearest. To say nothing of the coffee snobs; the guy who wants different parts of his egg cooked at different frequencies; and the picky madams who vie between the restrictions of banting and their own basic ignorance of what goes into food.

But that’s not all. There are also the people for whom you become an uninvited guest in their delicate private moments, moments which make you remember why life is indeed beautiful.

Sjarrap is a lovely holiday play which celebrates the heart and cuisine of what it takes to exist in this country, in certain pockets, where the harshness of dinner table discipline bears fruit.

And it’s as good a reason to stay at home by the wireless this evening, as anything.

  • Sjarrap en eet jou kos! (Shut up and eat your food) is written by Ilné Fourie. Directed by Eben Cruywagen, and featuring technical input by Cassi Lowers, it is performed by Gina Assanté, Susanne Beyers, Ludwig Binge, Roeline Daneel, Martelize Kolver, Leon Kruger and Chris Majiedt. It debuted on RSG in November 2016 and is presented this evening, December 28 at 8pm. It will be rebroadcast on January 1 at 1am in RSG’s Deurnag programme. It is also available on podcast: www.rsg.co.za.
  • RSG can be found on 100-104FM, on DStv channel 913 or live on http://web.sabc.co.za/digital/player/1.0/rsg/index.html#listenLiveTab

 

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Death of a golden boy

johnnyisniedoodnie

WASHING dishes: Lisa (Rolanda Marais), Dirk (Albert Pretorius), Hein (Ludwig Binge), Anya (Ilana Cillier) and Johnny (Roelof Storm) at play.

Sometimes you just know that a film will most likely not break box office records, not in this generation, at least, but that this market-centric prediction has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on its brilliance, its historical merit or its importance as a piece of research. Johnny is nie dood nie is a film of this nature. Featuring impeccable writing, an unforgettably sound understanding of the texture and anguish of the late 1980s in South Africa, and a speculum-like foray into the life of one of young Afrikaans culture’s most important icons, it’s an extraordinary project, but also a brave and essential film.

On one level it’s a loosely historical account of the last 15 years of the life of Afrikaans balladeer Johannes Kerkorrel – born Ralph Rabie in 1960 – bringing in the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of the era, not to mention the looming terror of mandatory army service for young white males, the PTSD and the sense of utter impotence in the eye of apartheid’s evils. It’s a tale of love and betrayal, of defiance and Alice in Wonderland, and there are moments in which you can almost smell the ether of the period, criss-crossed as it is with the odour of dagga, cigarettes and sweat, in a socio-political nexus laced with ideals and fury.

On another level, it is an essay on the loss of a dear friend. Lise (Rolanda Marais), Anya (Ilana Cillier), Hein (Ludwig Binge) and Dirk (Albert Pretorius) get together to commiserate about the suicide of the one who was central to all of their lives. It’s 2002 and they’re young adults with responsibilities. The flashbacks to the 1980s and their late teens offer clear and troubled insight into the messed up state of South African society at the time, as they present the nub of the Voëlvry movement, a development of politically astute Afrikaans cabaret which set Afrikaans university students afire with a sense of possibility.

When first we meet the eponymous Johnny (Roelof Storm), he’s freshly fired from his job as a journalist, and cocks a snook at the country’s expectations of him with glee. With his platinum blond hairdo and his nimble wit and singing talent, Johnny is like a god. But he’s like a fallen god. He has secrets that will overpower you in their sense of choice, in the Catch-22 that embraced the lives of so many young men of that wretched, double-crossed era.

While the film doesn’t promise to be comprehensive, the light it casts on the era is penetrating, as it is poignant, well-researched and hard-hitting. With everything, from a delicious cameo of the late Barend de Wet, with hookah and existential solutions at hand, to a televised snippet which reflects Evita Bezuidenhout (Pieter-Dirk Uys) chatting to Kerkorrel about life, the universe and music, as well as illustrations by John Tenniel on the walls, and Jan F E Celliers’s poem Dis Al on the window of a student dorm, the work is rich in detail, and unforgettable in texture.

Of the five central characters, it is Albert Pretorius’s nuanced sense of history and sadness that grips the film in an embrace which is haunting, delicate and simply beautiful. You understand implicitly that his Dirk, ultimately is a reflection of Dirk Uys who became the manager of Kerkorrel’s band, Gereformeerde Blues Band.

You have to sit to the very last moment of the film – even after the credits have scrolled up – for the music, however. The work is more focused on the horror and wildness of the times than the poetry of Kerkorrel and his contemporaries, including James Philips (who invented the alter ego Bernoldus Niemand), Koos Kombuis and others, but you must focus carefully. Snatches of Kerkorrel’s songs tie the work together like sinews and connective tissue. There’s a game the friends play in remembering lyrics, and a completely fabulous reconstruction of the iconic and utterly bizarre image that defines his record Eet Kreef  but you can rest assured, his magnificent ballads Hillbrow and In die Tronk are not forgotten.

  • Johnny is nie dood nie (2017) is directed by Christiaan Olwagen and stars Ludwig Binge, Ilana Cillier, Rolanda Marais, Albert Pretorius and Roelof Storm, based on the eponymous stage play by Malan Steyn. It is 106 minutes in length and is in Afrikaans with English subtitles. It opened at Ster Kinekor outlets nationwide on Friday May 5. Visit cinemanouveau.co.za and https://www.facebook.com/Johnnyisniedoodnie/?hc_ref=SEARCH for more details.