Sandra Prinsloo stars in 'Kamphoer die verhaal van Susan Nell'. Picture: Key Eye Poetry Photography
Sandra Prinsloo stars in 'Kamphoer die verhaal van Susan Nell'. Picture: Key Eye Poetry Photography

Sandra Prinsloo and Lara Foot collab in gut-wrenching theatre drama ‘Kamphoer’

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Feb 2, 2021

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Lara Foot’s latest hard-hitting drama, “Kamphoer - die verhaal van Susan Nell”, is a hit with theatre lovers in and around Joburg.

Currently on at The Market Theatre,Kamphoer - die verhaal van Susan Nell” is an intense and gripping production, which explores the injustices suffered by women from sexual assault to a violation of their human rights.

The award-winning production stars South African theatre legend Sandra Prinsloo, who brings to life the incredible story of Susan Nell.

Prinsloo puts the spotlight on an unspeakable ordeal Susan endured during the Anglo-Boer War in the Winburg concentration camp.

Following her father’s death during the war, Susan and her mother end up in the concentration camp where she is brutally raped and left for dead by two British officers.

A few years after the terrible ordeal, Susan qualifies as a psychiatric nurse in Europe.

Later, Susan travels to England during World War 1, where she serves at a military hospital for soldiers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress-related illnesses.

It is at the military hospital where Susan encounters one of her rapists and is flooded with memories of the trauma and humiliation of the rape incident.

Is Susan capable of revenge or will she forgive?

Sandra Prinsloo stars in “Kamphoer die verhaal van Susan Nell”. Picture: Key Eye Poetry Photography

That is the question that is answered in this play, which is based on Francois Smit's debut and best-selling novel as well as Nico Moolman's non-fiction publication, “The Boer Whore”.

It has been adapted for the stage by Cecilia du Toit, in collaboration with theatres giants Prinsloo and Foot.

In a recent chat with Prinsloo, she said: “ Every character is different and one has to delve deeply into your own psyche to find them.

“Susan Nell, the woman I portray, has probably been one of the most difficult roles I have had to do but also one of my best-loved roles.

“Grappling with a new role is always challenging but working with Lara on adapting the novel into a play was wonderful.

“I learnt so much. But the best part was the rehearsal period, exploring and finding all the nuances of this brave woman.

"There was also a lot of laughter during and after rehearsals and for that, I have to thank two brilliant women: Lara and our stage manager, Jeanne Steenkamp. Working doesn’t get much better than this!”

The themes in the production are aligned with current societal challenges and struggles.

“The play is set in an historic time but that is still so relevant today.

“A play that illustrates how certain things have not changed for women.

“It is a riveting story based on a true-life event and a real person. It is a deeply moving story of a woman’s courage,” Prinsloo revealed.

Sandra Prinsloo stars in “Kamphoer - die verhaal van Susan Nell”. Picture: Supplied

With an illustrious career spanning over three decades, Prinsloo says she’s thrilled to be back “home” at The Market Theatre where her acting career was launched nearly 40 years ago.

“Well, it’s great to be performing again at The Market Theatre. I think the last time I performed there was with John Kani in Miss Julie. I was also acting in both productions that opened The Market Theatre in the ’80s so The Market Theatre holds a special place in my heart."

Prinsloo also reflected on some of the behind-the-scenes work she did in the past, insisting that she wants to focus solely on her first love, acting.

“I have directed over 20 productions and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have also produced (numerous productions), now I am enjoying acting so I am not really thinking about other things except getting involved in community theatres,” she said.

She added: “Recently I have done the Fugard play ’The Road to Mecca’, playing Miss Helen. I have also done exciting work in Afrikaans, playing Martha in ’Wie is bang vir Virginia Woolf’, andDie Seemeeu’, which was also filmed, and opened in Russia, to standing ovations.

“I have done five one-woman shows in the past 10 years, ’Kamphoer’ being one of them. Also, two films, ’Twee grade van Moord’ and ’Racheltjie’.”

Sandra Prinsloo stars in “Kamphoer - die verhaal van Susan Nell”. Picture: Supplied

“Kamphoer - die verhaal van Susan Nell” premiered as the flagship production at the 2019 Free State Arts Festival in Bloemfontein.

It was awarded the Best National Theatre Debut award at the festival’s Blinker Awards.

The production also received a nomination for the Best Adaptation of an Existing Work award.

It was further nominated for Best Performance in a Solo Production at the 2020 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, and nominated for four awards at 2019 Aardklop National Arts Festival.

“Kamphoer - die verhaal van Susan Nell” is on at The Market Theatre until February 14, before it heads to Roodepoort Theatre for a limited season, from February 16-28.

For more information on the show and ticket sales visit Webtickets.

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