Ronald Theys, the first non-white lead tenor to appear on a South African opera stage.
Cape Town - A screenplay about a coloured man’s life-long challenge to have his voice heard during apartheid was the winning pitch at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival.

The screenplay titled Ronald, tells of the life and struggles of Ronald Theys, the first non-white lead tenor to appear on a South African opera stage. Ronald died in 2014.

The screenplay, written by Ronald’s son Nathan, was selected out of eight entries.

“This is a personal true story about someone who’s close to me. This story is a positive one of hope, courage and love. But the main thing is that we are honouring people who have gone through struggles to express their inhibitions,” said Nathan.

After overcoming numerous obstacles and achieving his dream, Ronald eventually became a lead tenor at the now defunct Cape Performing Arts Board and by 2000 was the company manager of the Nico Malan Theatre (now Artscape) and performed in over 300 professional opera productions.

“I was inspired by my father’s life because he was someone who loved life but also had the courage to chase after his dreams no matter how absurd it sounded. When my father passed in 2014 there were more than 2000 people at his funeral. But this story is not about that. I think it’s a little more than that. People from my father’s generation never had the opportunity we have today.

Nathan Theys, the son of Ronald.
Nathan Theys, the son of Ronald.

“Anyone of colour working today in the arts, we are reaping the fruits that people like Ronald sowed. So for me, what I am doing is honouring his life, enjoying the fruits that people like him bared but also taking the responsibilities to plant my own seeds so that generations to come can benefit from us.”

Nathan walked away with the first prize of $20 000 (R282 819) from Moving Billboard pictures company.

The feature Ronald is being produced with award-winning producers Nicki Priem from Mad Little Badger Productions and Dylan Voogt of Stage 5 films.

“We are still seeking the rest of the money to make the film and that could be through private investments, accessing public funds or even funds and donations from the community. We want this film to be everyone’s, as I believe that everyone has a bit of Ronald in them.

“We have a wealth of talent in SA; I would like to cast a local South African actor. However, I am also open to look internationally if it will help the film be seen internationally,” he said.

Weekend Argus