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AFTER about seven years of not being on stage, writer John van de Ruit (Spud) was worried he may be “off his game” on the opening night of The Rise of the Insanity League two weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.
“I was very nervous, mainly over the technical stuff like sound queues and wardrobe changes. I was worried I would be a little off my game, but this show works to my strengths,” he said.
Van de Ruit, Aaron McIlroy (Dof, The Golfer, The Loser and @work) and Ben Voss (best known for his alter ego, Beauty Ramapelepele) have teamed up with director Greig Coetzee in the The Rise of the Insanity League, a sketch comedy show that “pokes, provokes and tickles in all the right places”.
Van de Ruit explained what it had been like working on this show, with his last performance being 2006’s Green Mamba with Voss.
“Ben and I have been friends for years, but we haven’t worked together for long. Aaron has 22 years’ stage experience, Ben’s been doing this for about the past seven years. I’ve never worked with Aaron, but Ben and I have always admired his zany, musical style of comedy.
“Ben and I are a very sketch-style of comedy, so it’s been great fusing these. Aaron is an intense, clever and philosophical person, but on stage he’s a maniac. It’s been interesting getting to know him,” said Van de Ruit.
Some of the highlights of the show include Voss and Van de Ruit doing an all-Indian version of Isidingo that has been renamed Isipingo, and (apparently) a naked, solo experimental dance piece by McIlroy.
“I love the feeling of being on stage, there is something magical about it. We’ve been on tour for two weeks now. It’s been a lot of fun, but I also found it creatively challenging,” Van de Ruit said.
Commenting on the move from stage to writing and now back to stage, Van de Ruit says it has been a “real journey”.
“With Spud people often think I had a grand master plan, but Spud started off as a doodle on some hotel stationery in Zimbabwe. It was an experiment that went horribly right,” he said.
Voss and he were touring in 2005 when the first Spud was released. Within the blink of an eye, there was increased demand, talks of a sequel and, later on, a movie.
Coming full circle, Van de Ruit initially planned on writing The Rise of the Insanity League for Voss and McIlroy, but as he explained: “It became a calling back.
“At this stage, a lot will depend on the response of the audience. This year is pretty much The Rise of the Insanity League.
“But I’m also becoming more involved in the Spud movies. With the first I was consulting, with the second I wrote a few bits and with the third, I’m adapting the screenplay.
“So I’m quite looking forward to this year, which will involve a bit of everything.”
Van de Ruit is looking forward to bringing The Rise of the Insanity League to Durban next week.
“When we open at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, it will feel like homeground advantage,” he said.
• The Rise of the Insanity League will be staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from March 26 to April 28. The show will then perform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from June 27 to July 7; Johannesburg’s Montecasino, July 17 to August 11; Cape Town at Theatre on the Bay, August 14 to September 1, Hilton Arts Festival from September 13 to 15 and wrapping up in Pretoria (details to be announced).
• Tickets are on sale at Computicket. Block bookings of 10 or more, group bookings: Ailsa Windsor at 083 250 2690.