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The second Chekhov Festival organised by director/actor André Stolz will be held in the Joburg Theatre’s Fringe from June 4 to 16. DIANE DE BEER spoke to some of the participants.
TROUSSEAU (Afrikaans): A girl spends her whole life making a trousseau for her prospective fiancé with mom Karen Retief, daughter Danielle Retief, dad André Retief (director and cast, pictured right) and (outsiders) Johan Engelbrecht and Gustav Gerdener and stage manager, son Pierre Retief:
A family that works together plays together. Or is it the other way round? It doesn’t matter for the theatrical Retief family: mom, dad, daughter and son, their work and play is the same thing when they’re working on a play.
The whole family is involved in this year’s Chekhov production and it’s also part of their heritage. “I’m called by my second name Danielle,” says the daughter who is currently studying languages and English literature at Wits and might look familiar if you watched High Rollers on SABC 3. Her birth name is Anja because her mom, actress and dialogue coach/box director on 7de Laan, was in a Chekhov play when she was expecting.
“We’re all fascinated with the classics,” says Danielle, who is thrilled to get all this experience while still in the early days of her career.
This will also be the first time for mom and daughter on stage together and with dad directing.
Theatre is in their blood. Karen and André met backstage while they were studying and his father was a film director who was part of Jamie Uys’s The Gods Must Be Crazy brigade.
Theirs is a family of diverse artists and in this country, if you’re going to make a good living, versatility has to be part of your resumé.
That’s why Danielle is studying language and literature and why her brother is only now considering a career in the acting world.
“I’m in my gap year now,” he says and working as the stage manager and general dog’s body on this one.
And you can see they’re all excited to be working together.
Pierre is going to follow in Danielle’s footsteps, he thinks, because he’s interested in having a rounded education.
“I find it extremely exiting participating in the Chekhov Festival .
“All the amazing people André Stolz got together and doing this project along with old friends like Johan Engelbrecht, André and then most of my family as well.
“And then of course it’s Chekhov, what else can I say,” says Karen, who doesn’t have much time to be on stage these days, but is still obviously delighted to be on stage for this one.
For this festival and the piece, organiser Stolz selected the work and dad André reworked it as a text.
Time is of the essence, but they’re all optimistic that they can pull it off.
With this kind of theatre acumen, who would bet against them?
Danielle also appears in the festival piece, Oppad.