A coming-of-age story but also a warning about our future has come to Cape Town.
Stage production, Die Reuk van Appels, currently a on national tour, stars Green Point resident Gideon Lombard.
It is at the Fugard Theatre until Saturday November 11 and has an age restriction of 16. The play, performed in Afrikaans with English surtitles, tells the story of Marnus Erasmus, the 11-year-old son of a general in the then South African Defence Force (SADF). It is based on the acclaimed 1993 debut novel of South African author Mark
Mr Lombard, who was born in Namibia, said his childhood had a big impact on his world view.
“I grew up in a very academic household. Both my parents are professors. We moved around a lot growing up. I was exposed to a whole bunch of different cultures and languages.”
That, he said instilled in him curiosity for anything new or foreign, a curiosity which persists.
Mr Lombard said he studied music before studying philosophy and English literature.
“I needed another subject to complete my course so I took a drama subject.
“It was through that that the bug kind of bit me.”
He did that for two years before he auditioning for the theatre and performance degree at UCT and ended up studying directing.
“Theatre continues to be a way to integrate all those different interests of mine.”
He said his parents also enjoyed the arts a lot and had often taken him to watch theatre and opera. But, he said, “I never considered it something I would end up in one day.”
Mr Lombard is on TV shoots from 9am to 5pm, and then does theatre in the evening – two disciplines with very different technical requirements.
However, he notes: “At the base of all of them there are some constants. It’s about telling a story truthfully. In terms of my preference the theatre feels like home to me.
“I’ve always tried to keep a variety of things going because I feel like the combination of things refines you,” he said.
Director Lara Bye, who lives in Tamboerskloof, is also a full-time lecturer at AFDA film school.
“It’s this non-stop learning process. It’s that that really keeps you on your toes.”
She said one of her favourite things about working in theatre was the intimacy with the
“We worked a lot with rhythm. People respond to that and get that level of detail. It’s just him and a chair but we get transported.”
Mr Lombard agreed.
“We both have a big interest in the theoretical side of theatre. The study and different theories around it. But we both also realise that doesn’t mean anything if you can’t make it tangible. That’s our gig with this show.
“On the surface level it’s a peachy life. But the actual meat of the story is that this very protected life takes place in 1973 and 1974. One has to look at the landscape of South Africa at that time.”
He said everything you viewed at that time was censored.
“If you put a kid into that and parents into that, what they say is gospel to him.”
Part of what it deals with, he says, can serve as cautionary tale that history should not repeat itself.
“It is also about the responsibility that we have towards children. The tragedy is that this kid doesn’t know what he is saying. It is assumed language, his dad is speaking through him.”
Mr Lombard also said the play makes one looking at oneself.
“If we don’t have the conversations that this play talks about, then we are doomed to repeat ourselves.”
He said that he had been touring solo since April and was looking forward to working with Ms Bye again.