Scene It: Santa Gamka, the illusion of hope

February 8, 2016

Every person’s life is a journey-story. We are each on our way to somewhere … different, better, bigger… or so we believe. What if every time we end up at a crossroads, unknowingly, all roads circumstantially loop back to where we were before? This is the conundrum that is the life of Lucky Marais, brilliantly portrayed by Marlo Minnaar, and his Santa Gamka existence.


After experiencing the award-winning Santa Gamka at the Baxter Theatre, one line keeps echoing in my heart: “A man’s character is his fate."

When you meet Lucky for the first time, he enters this world through his mother's pain and love. You stand witness to that moment as perhaps the only instance of true untainted love Lucky ever experiences. Every moment thereafter is sadly driven by a search for love... love as acceptance, love as respect, love as hope.


Never truly experiencing love in any such form, his character is tainted by the selfish lessons of those around him. He finds himself driven by the "teachings" of those who constantly manipulate him in "service" of their own needs, giving him the false impression of choice. His journey-story is one of innocence lost, before he even got the chance to grasp what it was. In the absence of love, his heart actually becomes the desert that entraps him. Even when he tries to leave Santa Gamka, he takes the baron character of it with him. Ironically then, it is in the absence of love that one finds the depth of this play. With every twist and turn you find yourself yearning for that ungettable get, along with Lucky.

Don't be deceived by the "comical" moments in this production. In the tough-guy vulnerability Minnaar brings to the character, he illustrates that a wounded soul hides behind wit and clever comebacks. For his own survival, Lucky would rather you laugh with him than at him. Survival, is a powerful, yet sometimes deceitful, driving force. It is the Loki of emotions, if you don't know what "better" truly looks like. It is that honest exposure of a raw human being that will leave a lasting impression as you exit the theatre.


The simplistic set (but sand, table and chairs) is genius, as it both reminds you of the memory of the small kid that played in the sand, while simultaneously setting the scene for a young man’s struggle as he tries to fight his way out of the Santa Gamka sand pit. The set, lighting and sound design all subtly complement Minnaar's physical theatre performance, and together culminate in the creation of a technicolour experience that transports you to the dust of the Karoo... you can practically smell the thorn trees!


Apart from the unquestionable talent that it showcases, the brilliance of this Jaco Bouwer directed play about a broken soul, lies in its power of reflection. It is a mirror society needs to look into. Personally, I think everyone should go see Santa Gamka alone (or at least with someone that can appreciate good company in silence), because afterwards you need an hour or two "alone" with your thoughts to process the impact of all you have witnessed. That is your very important role in this play, you are the witness.


As you stand witness to a life lived in loss, Santa Gamka highlights what lack of privilege really looks like. It highlights the true meaning of privilege... if you have options, opportunities, more than a mere illusion of choice, you have the privilege of an attainable dream. Hope, true hope, is a privilege in itself. That hope constantly eludes Lucky as he loops through the set of circumstance-driven choices the Fates dealt him, wherever he goes.


This hard-hitting, must see, theatre reflection experience is running at the Baxter Theatre until 20 February, with tickets available at Computicket. Do yourself a soul-favour and make this your next me-time theatre experience. Please note that Santa Gamka is performed in Afrikaans, and has an age restriction of 16 years due to nudity and language.




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