IT HAS BEEN almost exactly a year since the last time I interviewed Pieter Bosch Botha.
The Joburg-born director and actor had just moved to Cape Town and was extremely excited about moving to a place he thought of as more ready to experiment with new theatre.
So, when we meet at the Alexander Bar to talk about what he is doing now, it is a relief to see the big grin is still on his face, and it turns out the now 27-year-old is so busy he doesn’t know if he is coming or going.
Not only is Bosch Botha running from rehearsal to rehearsal to show, but there is plenty coming his way in the new year, even some stuff he can’t talk about yet.
He hasn’t stuck to just one group of people, so you can find him in all kinds of productions from children’s theatre to a one-man show over the next few months.
First up there is the reprise of Swoop at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, which received critical acclaim when it was first staged at the Kalk Bay Theatre earlier this year.
Swoop takes its starting point from Hilda Cronje’s The Adventures of Sam the Swallow, which she first wrote and staged for the Out the Box Festival.
He always wanted to work with Sam de Romijn from Imbewu Trust (“She’s like a theatre ninja” Bosch Botha says about the Swoop producer) and is extremely passionate about the environment.
Bosch Botha is also passionate about children’s theatre because of the way he can let his imagination go down roads which adult theatre precludes.
“When you’re creating theatre for adults and you’re doing magical realism and sci-fi/fantasy for adults you can still go mad, but with the kids there’s no-holds barred, you can go insane.”
Workshopping The Adventures of Sam the Swallow produced Swoop, a story which uses the premise of the migration of swallows from Africa to England to bring home an environmental message.
They ditched the anthropomor- phisation of the animals in favour of taking their voices away: “to make it clear to children that an animal is an animal, that they are different from us and that there is definitely a communication gap. But, that’s all the more reason for us to look out for them and take care of animals and respect them because they’re not the same as us.
“I think if we humanise animals we treat them the same as us, and we don’t treat each other well,” he explained.
In the play young Sam gets to know more about swallows from someone he meets at King Shaka airport and while information is subtly presented in the play it is done in such a way as to encourage children to find out more on their own.
While Swoop is on at 11am every day he won’t be at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective because he’s working on the V&A Waterfront’s entertainment during December at the same time and already working on Far from the Norm as well as rehearsing for his own one-man-show, Fully Committed.
This one will be performed at the tiny theatre above the Alexander Bar on Strand Street in January and features Bosch Botha as more than 30 characters who interact with each other in a restaurant setting. He plays everything from the chef to the maitre’d as well as patrons desperate to get into the most sought-after restaurant in town so.
Then there’s Far from the Norm, a piece he was asked to direct by Richard Antrobus (whom he worked with on Hats) which is different to how he normally works. It’s sci-fi mixed with physical theatre as well as a bit of magical realism and multi-media, and he’s scratching his head about how they’re going to incorporate technology “because Karen has written it cinematically, so it calls for cgi”) into the show’s budget.
“We can’t, because of lack of funding in this country, keep on compromising what we do. In the US and Europe they’re doing extremely advanced things and yes, they’ve got more money, but we are South African and we are inventive and I think it’s our responsibility to find ways, with minimum budgets, to bring out the same effect and the same quality that they get over there and perhaps even more.
“The only way I can see that happening is a lot of experi- menting, so this piece is going to require a lot of that.”
Written by Karen Jeynes, this production – about a person who is an actual scientific universal constant – is a workshop in progress and launches in March at the Festival of Fame in Joburg.
Bosch Botha has just returned from Joburg where he was wrapping up last-minute logistics for a new South African musical which will audition in February. He is so excited he almost lets slip what it is, but stops himself just in time.
Swoop is suitable for all ages, but most suitable for six to 16 year olds. Runs December 10 until 22, daily at 11am at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Methodist Church Hall, cnr Milton Rd and Wesley St, Obs, Cape Town. Tickets: R60 at www. webtickets.co.za
• Fully Committed will stage upstairs at the Alexander Bar, Strand St in January. See www.alexander bar.co.za