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:

No home improver like an old home improver

ALTOGETHER now: Geriatic energy is in the focus of Joe Kleinhans’s Die Gang.

NEPOTISM, CORRUPTION AND other kinds of detected shenanigans in the management of a Pretoria  old aged home which has passed its prime comes under the delicious loupe of Joe Kleinhans’s vision in this lovely Afrikaans-language play with a tight structure and a strong sense of geriatric morality. It broadcasts in a few hours and is arguably one of the finest possible ways to pass an hour on a chilly winter’s evening.

Within minutes of the opening scene, we meet Jakob Swart (Louis Van Niekerk), a dapper and elderly widower with a good eye for the flaws in a building and a cell phone in his hand. He’s just moved into TuisBes, a residential place for the elderly which prides itself on its image and reputation and we – and the establishment’s matron – find him ostensibly rifling through her confidential files as the scene is set. Aggressive accusations fly with abandon, making hilarious use of idioms and beautifully painting the idiosyncrasies of the two characters and their context.

There unfolds a tale of intrigue, titillation, marital blues and money in the form of church subsidies, in its embrace of the complexities of growing old with dignity in the network of an institution designed to make things flow as smoothly as possible for its residents in their latter years. But flow is not always something reserved for the passage of time, and Jakob, still moored in his professional skills smells a rat – or rather finds some problems in the building, which enables him to worm his way into everyone’s – or at least most people’s – hearts.

It’s a happy story in which the dodgers of strict moral behaviour are ferreted out, but also a yarn which is characterised by a strong sense of empathy for the elderly and their penchant for unadulterated gossip. As you sit back and listen to this drama, you can in your mind’s eye and nose – imagine the wall paper and the walkers, the institutional smell of TuisBes and the way in which this widower becomes the one they gravitate towards.

  • Die Gang (The Gang) is written by Joe Kleinhans. Directed by Christelle Webb-Joubert, and featuring technical input by Bongi Thomas and Patrick Monana, it is performed by Marintha Labuschagne, Heidi Mollentze, Janine Opperman, Ria Smit, Woutrine Theron and Louis van Niekerk. It debuts on RSG (100-104FM) on June 7 at 8pm, will be rebroadcast on June 11 at 1am in Radio Sonder Grense’s Deurnag programme, and is also available on podcast: