Press: A not-to-be-missed Afrikaans season at the Baxter this January and February

January 7, 2015

The Baxter Theatre Centre kicks off its 2015 programme during January and February with an Afrikaans season showcasing two hugely acclaimed dramas and a comedy, with all three productions featuring all-star casts.


Jaco Bouwer’s award-winning Samsa-masjien, which won the ATKV-Woorveertjie for Drama, takes to the Baxter’s Flipside stage from 16 to 31 January at 8.15pm. From 20 January to 7 February, in the Baxter’s Golden Arrow Studio, television favourites Vinette Ebrahim and Chris van Niekerk will delight in the comedy Die Ongelooflike Reis van Max en Lola at 8.15pm nightly. Marthinus Basson’s epic macbeth.slapeloos, which is performed in Afrikaans with English surtitles, will run in the Baxter Theatre from 4 to 21 February at 7.30pm. 


Sama-masjien made its debut at the Absa Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) last year, where it received the Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director awards as well as the Herrie prize for ‘mind-shifting’ work. Bouwer was honoured for his contribution to ‘new thinking’ in Afrikaans theatre.


Conceptualised by Jaco Bouwer and Willem Anker and written by Anker, Samsa-masjien aims to engage in a dialogue with Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (Metamorphosis). Like Gregor in the Kafka story, in Samsa-masjien Gregor senior, a retired biology teacher and principal (played by Gerben Kamper) is suffering from dementia. As a result, he and his wife Josephine (played by Antoinette Kellermann) live with their daughter Grete (Ilana Cilliers) and her husband Tjaart (Ludwig Binge) in their luxury modern home in a suburb similar to Sandton. Gregor undergoes a systematic becoming-insect, which psychologists, psychiatrists and doctors ascribe to the auditory and tactile hallucinations common to dementia patients. Gregor sees insects everywhere, feels them walking on him and eventually feels himself becoming something both less and more than human.


Diane de Beer for Argus Tonight wrote: “As radical, trail-blazing theatre, it begs to be seen. This extravagant and extraordinary production is an onslaught on the senses as it invades and expands the mind,” while Laetitia Pople from Die Burger said, “a total onslaught of the senses ... Bouwer’s visual offering is a sure hit.”


In 2013 Bouwer’s Rooiland wowed audiences at the Baxter and earned several Fleur du Cap awards and nominations. Once again with Samsa-masjien he is responsible for design and direction, with music by Pierre-Henry Wicomb, costume design by Birrie le Roux and lighting by Johan Britz. There is an age restriction of 16 years.


Marthinus Basson has created an epic South African Macbeth with his adaption macbeth.slapeloos, featuring three of the doyennes of Afrikaans theatre - Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Jana Cilliers and Antoinette Kellermann, with Dawid Minnaar in the title role. The rest of the ensemble comprises Stian Bam, Charlton George, Ludwig Binge, Edwin van der Walt and Senzo Madikane. The production is designed and directed by Basson, with a superb translation by Eitemal and it will be performed with English surtitles. Hugo Theart produces macbeth.slapeloos with lighting design by Albert Snyman and choreography by Estelle Olivier.


It is presented by TEATERteater, widely regarded as one of the most prolific independent South African theatre companies, who, in recent years, have also produced award-winning productions such as Die kortstondige raklewe van Anastasia W,  As die Broek Pas, Op Dees Aarde and Klaasvakie.


macbeth.slapeloos has already amassed nine awards and several nominations at various festivals which include the Clover Aardklop National Arts Festival, the KykNET Fiesta Theatre Awards and the KKNK. It received awards for best actor (Dawid Minnaar), best actress (Anna-Mart van der Merwe), best supporting actor (Charlton George), best director, best design and best production, amongst others. In 2014 it played to great acclaim at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.


Nigel Vermaas for the festival daily Cue said, “It is brilliant theatre … a dream production” and Christina Kennedy for Business Day agreed, saying “The cream of the crop was Marthinus Basson’s exceptional rendering of ‘the Scottish play’ … it illuminated the beauty of Shakespeare’s prose.” Johan Myburg for Beeld described it as a “powerful production and feather in the cap for director Basson”. Diane de Beer from The Star Tonight went further by saying, “Those of us who witnessed what this wise wizard of magical storytelling pulled out of his hat, again, feel blessed.” There is an age restriction of 14 years.


Two of the darlings of South African stage and television, Vinette Ebrahim and Chris van Niekerk, have teamed up to present a brand-new dark comedy, Die Ongelooflike Ruis van Max en Lola (the unbelievable journey of Max and Lola). Written by Ebrahim and Hugo Taljaard (who also directs the two-hander), it tells the charming and hilarious story of 80-year-old Max who is gay and white, and Lola, a 79-year-old sharp-tongued coloured woman, who have been friends for over 50 years despite the country’s political history. At Max’s 80th birthday Lola is the only guest who arrives and it all ends as a party of just the two eccentric characters who share a love for the bioscope.  The comedy is performed mainly in Afrikaans with some Cape dialect in English and there is an age restriction of 13 years.


Booking for any of these productions in the Baxter’s exciting Afrikaans season of Samsa-masjien, macbeth.slapeloos or Die Ongelooflike Reis van Max en Lola is through Computicket on  0861 915 8000, online at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.


For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, email or Carmen on 021 680 3993, email


Press release provided by Fahiem Stellenboom.


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