DURBAN-born Grant Jacobs’ decision to move to Cape Town was made at the Joburg airport. He was on his way home when he decided to spread his wings.
It was an impulsive decision – “I get something in my head, I just do it,” he says. Although Durban has much to offer, he was starting to get claustrophobic.
As soon as he found a flat in the centre of the Mother City to call home, he got a call from director Themi Venturas to take part in the gospel opera The African Passions.
That meant basing himself in Durban, and a chance to travel around the country earlier last year. Then it was back to Cape Town and some more knocking on doors, meeting new people and testing out the theatre-making landscape.
While his first love is musical theatre (he studied music and drama at UKZN), he also likes physical theatre and worked on children’s theatre in Durban.
The Bob and Rob Show (which he created and worked on with Rory Booth) is something he would like to replicate in Cape Town, but what we will see first is Paperboy.
Created in 2011 with the help of director Liam Magner, Paperboy proved a hit with audiences from the first performance at the National Arts Festival. They won an Ovation Award and he has taken the one-hander to several other festivals, including one in Harare, Zimbabwe.
While he never delivered newspapers as a child, the 25-year-old was fascinated by people who did and wondered what their lives were like once they returned to their own homes after coming right up to his home’s doorstep.
So he created the Bobby Jones character. “It’s an interesting story. What’s happening to the boy when we don’t see him?”
While the story is set in a fictional place, it takes place some time in the early 2000s. Jacobs is not oblivious to the disappearance of the concept of a person delivering newspapers to your home. Still, it’s a character exploration rather than a period piece.
“It’s more about Bobby and his journey, his coming of age story.
“He’s 22 and still a paperboy, and he wants to become a master paperboy. How else are people going to know what is happening if he doesn’t deliver the newspaper?”
Jacobs plays seven characters in the one-hander, ranging from the gossip on the corner to Bobby’s strange father and shy, sweet, naive Bobby.
“It’s not a show where I want the people to be moved to the ends of the earth. The story is as simple as Bobby is. I want people to walk out with a smile on their face. It’s about how the paperboy grows from a child to an adult.”
First and foremost a performer, Jacobs wanted to create something that is personal, but accessible.
“Everyone can relate to Paperboy because every character is someone you have met or seen.
“You’re the shy guy who is always scared to talk to the girl or you know that aunt who always runs off her mouth, or the guys on the corner who think they are the main men. That’s what makes it a family show.”
“Maybe he’s not Evita but he’s my character and one I enjoy, a young man searching for new experiences.
• Paperboy is on at the Kalk Bay Theatre from February 12 to 15 at 8pm.