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JUST last month the talented Jacobus van Heerden scooped two Musho Theatre Festival awards for his sketch comedy work, Le Chop Royale. He now tours the show for a local run at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo.
Written by Van Heerden, with directorial assistance from Liam Magner and David Gouldie, and performed by Van Heerden, Le Chop Royale is described as a one-man comedy of “epic proportions”.
Tonight caught up with the actor to discuss his show, which features six “performer misfits” hosted by the outrageous “Benson Schwenson” – they include an Afrikaans pop star, a flamboyant dancer, a rapping Christian granny, and a homophobic self-defence expert. “I love making people laugh…” Van Heerden says.
“The challenge is you want to make people laugh, but at the same time take them on a journey.”
Van Heerden began dabbling in film about three years ago when he started wanting to “mesh” that with his theatre experience. He was able to do this in Le Chop Royale.
“I have these video intros which play on stage. A lot of work went into these and they give me a chance to change for any of my characters… It’s like a variety show with a range of different characters.
We have characters like Grandma Bevan, she’s a religious nut; Kirk Darren, an Afrikaans pop star who wants to cross over to a non-white audience; a cage fighter giving a lesson on self-defence; and others.”
The play first staged at the National Arts Festival last year in Grahamstown, and more recently at the Musho Fest. But Van Heerden says it’s constantly evolving: “Also the previous shows were festival length (60 minutes). This one will be an 80-minute show and I’ve also included new material and characters.”
Van Heerden says it’s not purely entertaining. “Comedy is very important to get people to feel good about themselves and about our local context. There is a lot of comical satire out there which I really don’t like. This for me is the worst kind of comedy, because it is actually creating more division.
“I wanted a comedy show with appeal to a diverse audience, but at the same time I don’t think people who are stuck in the past would enjoy this. This show is about pushing boundaries, but it has a lot of integrity.”
• Le Chop Royale runs at the Rhumbelow Theatre from February 22 to 24 before embarking on further local and festival tours. Tickets are R100 through Computicket or call or e-mail Roland on 031 205 7602 or firstname.lastname@example.org