ON THE EDGE: Adapted for South Africa, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is directed and performed by Thomie Holtzhausen, above, and Jason Barber.
ON THE EDGE: Adapted for South Africa, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is directed and performed by Thomie Holtzhausen, above, and Jason Barber.
Jason Barber
Jason Barber

DURBAN theatre celebrity Thomie Holtzhausen is a popular personality on stage but with his latest theatre and business venture he proves himself to be more than just a pretty face.

Through It’s Taboo Productions Holtzhausen is set on boosting “edgy” theatre in Durban and he begins this week with The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

The play has been described as an exposé of the appalling working conditions in Apple’s Foxconn factory in China, the atrocities of capitalism and the ignorance of consumerism. Originally written by Mike Daisey – the play has been adapted in a South African context, directed and performed by Holtzhausen and Jason Barber. The play, as Holtzhausen explains, is intended to provide a provocative jolt to its audience.

“I started It’s Taboo Productions with the idea to create a platform for young, upcoming artists to do edgy stuff, because that is what theatre is really all about,” said Holtzhausen, adding that The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was a perfect tool to take that first edgy step.

“(It’s)… an amazing piece and it’s also about letting people think about consumerism… We just consume all the time and we don’t know where it comes from. Where is the worker behind this? So even in a democracy we need to ask questions, we’re all slaves… You watch movies like 12 Years a Slave and think, how could people think it was right at the time. Yet it is 2014 and I think the time will come and we will look back on today and say how did we allow all of this and that to happen,” he said.

Holtzhausen said It’s Taboo Productions is not mainstream theatre. “It’s for thinkers and students and people who really want to make a difference. We as artists shouldn’t forget that it’s about our passion. We have fallen into a trap where we have to do productions that will pay the bills. This is so sad and wrong that we have to, almost, prostitute ourselves for the sake of survival, and we move away for the art…”

He added that if he wanted to make that statement about It’s Taboo, it would be that it was about boo-ing “something which we are all married to”, being consumerism. “…and if I really want to make that point, why am I going to charge a ticket price? Yes I want to survive, but I truly believe if one follows your passion, money will follow. You should not follow money and then think, now where does my passion fit? It’s a brave thing to do, it’s a costly thing to do… artists need to realise that we have to do this,” he said, confirming that The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs would be free of charge but booking is necessary.

“The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is about engaging with the audience, starting off dialogue and maybe make two or three people think. We must think, we mustn’t just do,” he said.

The busy Holtzhausen also launched It’s Taboo, a cabaret venue last week. “We are starting it small, almost as a dry run at the moment but we will launch officially later on. We open on Monday and Wednesday, with live jazz every Wednesday; and then as and when people hire the venue… It is more a cabaret style venue. It’s intimate and the idea is to let It’s Taboo be a venue for engaging the arts.

“We want to use the venue to introduce artists to Durban. We will be starting poetry and open mic on a Thursday. At a later stage we want to host art exhibitions here and fashion shows, which are starting with a matric dance fashion show, showcasing 10 Durban fashion designers’ work to the relevant audience. This will happen over the long weekend in March,” he said.


• The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs opens on Wednesday at the Seabrooke’s Theatre (DHS) and runs until March 15. Entry is free, but booking is essential through [email protected] or online at www.quicket.co.za