The all female team of A Frikken Playhouse Productions brings you a heartfelt and light-hearted look at the fear of forgetting. Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed (There’s a stranger in my bed) promises audiences a theatre experience that transports you to a space that is somewhere between fantasy and reality.
Daar's 'n vreemdeling in my bed tells of Amelia's journey through heartbreak and coming to terms with a history of family disease; a story that intertwines trauma, happiness, and the banal as tightly as real life does. Director, Liese Kuhn, shares some theatre facts about this Afrikaans offering to give the theatre-lovers of Cape Town some insight into the play that will be onstage at Alexander Upstairs from 17 - 19 January.
1. Where does the idea for Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed come from?
More often than not I find myself photographing moments and listening to the conversations happening around me. I am continuously practicing the art of archiving --be it by capturing the moment or mentally/physically writing it down. As an actress, I was always taught that observation is key to the craft, but it is also something which I find to be ingrained in my generation’s everyday ritual. With the birth of instagram and facebook came the birth of online archives; visual portfolios of the past and present. We obsess over remembering and being remembered. Marry that with a direct threat to memory; Alzheimer's, a disease, which has been and still is on the rise, and we find ourselves in a world full of strangers as the deterioration of memory takes place. A sense of self is lost when precious moments and memories are lost. I was fascinated by the two ends of the spectrum. On one end a generation furiously archiving and collecting moments and on the other end an older generation that’s slowly forgetting.
2. Tell us about Amelia as a character. If we were to run into her at Alexander Bar, what impression would she leave?
Amelia watches Alzheimer's eat away at her grandfather and as a result of it’s hereditary link, she finds herself drowning in a world of memory and loss of identity as she tries to combat it all by recording absolutely everything and everyone she hears and sees through her sketches and through repetition. She obsesses over remembering because she’s terrified that one day the same thing will happen to her. She is an anxious person who uses humour to hide her hurt and fear and is always found sketching and wandering through her imagination.
3. You co-wrote the play with Laura-Lee Mostert (who plays Amelia in Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed). Tell us about that cooperative play-development process?
Writing with Laura-lee has been an absolutely wonderful experience. Writing can be both lonely and exhausting, so sharing the load and the laughter with not only a close friend but a talented one too has been beyond brilliant! The characters that Amelia describes in her stories and sketches are ones that we’ve both seen and both know very well. I’ve loved the long afternoons and evenings fuelled by coffee and laughter (sometimes tears) as we’ve reminisced over our hometowns and childhood memories; that fed into so many of the stories in the text.
4. What about the style and tone of Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed makes it describable as a dramedy? Do you find it is easier for people to process the social commentary of an issue theatre play if there is a lighter side in the delivery of the message?
I think the humour was just a given as we approached the text with real life characters and stories that we’ve either seen ourselves or heard via close friends and family: The everyday comedy that occurs in everyday life. I also adore Taika Waititi’s approach to storytelling through his Happy Sad cinema style. I wanted to approach this rather weighty topic with that very same nature. To play the light moments that surround the interactions we have with each other in both sickness and in health (unavoidable wedding quote).
5. The performance is said to be accompanied by multi-media elements too. To what extent do you use digital aids and how important is it to balance the narrative with the visual stimulation in this modern approach to theatre?
The multi-media element was inspired by the sketches seen in Mike Mills’ Beginners (2010) and the sketches that Laura-lee creates under the name Spookasem. I just loved the idea of using another skill that Laura has to further the telling of Amelia’s story and to bring in a quirky character trait that spoke to her approach of archiving. We got to have a lot of fun when selecting what would be sketched and where. The aim has never been to use the sketches as a direct reflection of what is being said on stage but to use unexpected images that heighten the text and the humour.
6. How would you describe your directing style, and how does Daar's 'n vreemdeling in my bed speak to the expression of that style?
Collaborative and playful are two words that come to mind. I like to keep that childlike sense of play when exploring modes of storytelling with my actor and I love to collaborate with them. We work together to bring the character and the story to life --we both go home and do our homework so that when we return the next day we have an abundance to explore and to work with. I also would say that I like to experiment with multiple mediums in a show, bringing in film, or images that are tailored to heighten the experience. Daar’s ’n veemdeling in my bed is testament to this through its specific use of projected sketches.
7. Who would be the ideal audience member to come see this dramedy?
This show is for anyone from the silent generation, baby boomers, generation X all the way through to the Centennials. It speaks to both spectrums. The play is in Afrikaans, but I don’t think that it should be limited to an Afrikaans speaking audience. Alzheimer’s is something that is growing universally. It’s for your mom, your grandad, your older sister, and your brother that just matriculated. It’s for your aunt and uncle and graduating third cousin removed. Come one and come all to share in the stories; to share in the memories.
8. Without giving anything away, what is your favourite line from Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed?
“Toe maak ek gereed vir storie tyd saam met Oupa terwyl Ryno Love Island kyk.”
9. What message or experience would you like the audience to take away from seeing Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed?
The preciousness of memory and its link to identity. We are the sum of our memories, our experiences, our families and friends. Without them we are strangers. Whether we’re part of the baby boomers who kept old photo albums and diaries and tape recordings, or part of the centennials and instagram everything, everyday; we’re all just trying to remember and hold on to the things that make us...us.
10. What does theatre as a lifestyle mean to you?
Modern life has gotten so strange, we all get 150 emails and text messages a day, and it’s hard when things are moving that quickly to keep that sense of wonder about being alive. I feel like the theatre always offers us a space to do that. I’m a much better person when I’m developing my imagination and my vulnerability. I like that version of me better than the version where I’m just working on my analytical mind. The theatre also offers the opportunity to create your own work. You don’t have to wait for permission to write a role for yourself, or to tell a certain story, interact with a certain character. You just sit down, write the story, put in the necessary work, and do it. It’s like walking into the kitchen. What kind of meal do you make from there? It can be anything.
Show: Daar's 'n vreemdeling in my bed
Venue: Alexander Upstairs
Dates: 17 - 19 January
Price: R110 (R100 online)
Running Time: 45 mins
Directed by Liese Kuhn
Written by Liese Kuhn & Laura-Lee Mostert
Performed by Laura-Lee Moster