Chantal Stanfield’s real-life love story is the stuff movies are made of. And because it’s so entertaining, she wrote a play about it called, From Koe’siestes To Kneidlach.
By the way, she’s married to award-winning vocalist, songwriter, composer, vocal coach, musical director and producer, RJ Benjamin.
The actress, who has appeared in TV shows such as 7de Laan, Geraldina die Tweede, Montana, Roer Jou Voete, S.I.E.S. and The Philanthropist, takes us back to how it all happened.
She says, “One of the first lines of the play is: ‘I met my husband on Twitter in the year he’d given his mother to find him a nice Jewish girl.’
“That’s how it started. I was a fan. I’ve had his music since the beginning. And randomly one day, while I was travelling overseas, I tweeted him about his songs. And he responded. And we’ve been back and forth like that for a while and before you knew it, we were, officially, a couple.”
This love story started in 2013 and culminated in them tying the knot in 2015.
This play is a condensed version of her experiences during their time together.
The 30-something actress reveals, “The one-person play tracks my journey of falling in love and then discovering that he is from this culture that I have no experience or knowledge in.”
This includes all the rituals such as Friday night suppers, prayers and the food.
Of course, the cultural differences offer much scope for humour, too.
Stanfield agrees, “Yes, there’s a fair amount of comedy in the piece. Anytime that you learn something new, there is always the potential to do something wrong.
“It wasn’t just that I wasn’t Jewish, I was a person of colour. And I was trying to understand words I’ve never heard before; some words people might recognise from pop culture.”
So how did they find a balance?
She reveals, “We both speak random words from both our cultures. He would say random Afrikaans words and I would say random Yiddish words.”
When penning this script, she bounced ideas of her hubby.
The actress explains, “As a couple, we share a lot of experiences about work and life. When it came to this play, I bounced a lot off him. So for the various scenarios, I asked him if they would be deemed too offensive or not, whether it was safe to go to certain places and so on. He read the piece recently and loved it.”
Interestingly, this is the first time she’s doing a dramatic one-hander. She credits director Megan Furniss for guiding her through the creative process on stage.
She said, “I’m in the hands of someone very capable. Someone who has been in the industry far longer than I have and has done many one-woman pieces.
“It’s a big challenge, but it’s also been fun creating all the characters and finding the nuances that make them unique.”
By the way, her 7de Laan character, Cecile Whittaker, will be returning after an absence of almost a decade. And she opens a can of worms with her arrival. /div>
* From Koe’siestes To Kneidlach plays at Auto & General Theatre on the Square until March 18.