Krotoa’s story still shakes us – emotionally battered by clash of cultures
It was first performed to acclaim in The Netherlands in October. February marks Black History Month in many countries and 2019 is the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, which makes the production all the more significant and hugely relevant in South Africa today.
Set in present-day South Africa, it tells of a Dutch actor and singer (Kees Scholten) and a South African actress (Bianca Flanders of Blood Brothers, Orpheus in Africa and Shakespeare in Love), who meet on the film set of Krotoa, Eva van de Kaap. He plays Jan van Riebeeck, the VOC Commander who established a refreshment station at the Cape in 1652.
She plays Krotoa, the young Khoi girl taken into Van Riebeeck’s household, who went on to become a key negotiator and translator between the Dutch and the local people at a young age.
The first Khoi woman to be baptised and the first to officially marry a European, Krotoa was emotionally battered by the clash of two cultures.
The two actors are not unscathed as they enter a whirlwind of confrontations during their creative process and even in their own world, where Krotoa’s story shakes them up.
Multilingual and intercultural, Krotoa, Eva van de Kaap, is written by the award-winning writer, film-maker and journalist Sylvia Vollenhoven (BBC’s Mandela the Living Legend, Cold Case: Revisiting Dulcie September, The Keeper of the Kumm).
It is directed by Basil Appollis (The Keeper of the Kumm, Brother Love) and presented in English, Afrikaans, Dutch and Khoikhoi with English subtitles.
The production is a perspective-changing tribute to a neglected and contested aspect of shared history.
The story is brought to the stage in an innovative way and sheds new light on an ancient narrative. Not so long ago, few people knew Krotoa.
This play contends that the story has not ended, identifies an awakening, and compellingly connects the dots between what transpired at a 17th-century fort and events of today.
Music is composed by South African Frazer Barry and Jef Hofmeister, from the Volksoperahuis in The Netherlands, lighting design is by Gé Wegman, production is by Blythe Stuart-Linger (South Africa) and the head technician is Sanderijn Wagenvoorde.
Krotoa, Eva van de Kaap is on at the Artscape Arena from February 7 to 16, with booking through Computicket or 021 421 7695.