Interview: Sne Dladla speaks about his role in Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. The film recording of the production is streaming on The Fugard’s website
This interview with Sne Dladla was published in The Weekend Argus, August 2016. Dladla starred with Anna-Mart van der Merwe and Tshamano Sebe. Set design was by the late Saul Radomsky. The play was staged at The Fugard Theatre in August/September 2016. The film recording of the production is now streaming – at no charge – for Friends of the Fugard. Details regarding streaming https://thecaperobyn.co.za/theatre-the-fugard-at-home-covid-19/
Sne Dlada interview, 2016:
Sne Dladla cannot be accused of being typecast. When he arrived in Cape Town three years ago , from KZN where he grew up, he established himself as a stand-up comic. He went onto to wow audiences with comedic leaning roles in musicals including David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa and District Six – Kanala. Dladla won the Fleur du Cap for best supporting actor in a musical for various roles in Orpheus. Now this multi-talented theatre maker is stepping out in a new direction – in Athol Fugard’s, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. The play directed by Fugard and his wife Paula Fourie is on at the Fugard Studio from Tuesday (August 23) to September 24.
Dlada shares the stage with Anna-Mart van der Merwe and Tshamano Sebe. The creative team includes Saul Radomsky (set), Birrie Le Roux (costumes), Mannie Manim (lighting) and Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (sound)
“Granted, I am a stand-up comedian but I’d like to think of stand up as one side of my artist bone,” enthused Dladla. “Most comedy material comes from the most hurtful place. Being able to understand your own pain and to turn it into comedy, surely must mean that the ability to tap into the actor that can show deep emotion is there. I’m truly excited to do this show to especially get out of the box of the ‘funny guy’ it’s something I love doing but people are still yet to see the full picture.”
The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek premiered in New York, last year  at the Signature Theatre. The season was extended several times. In writing the play, Fugard was inspired by the life of Nukain Mabuza – a farm labourer who lived in Apartheid South Africa and who painted images on to rocks in Revolver Creek. (Revolver Creek is a part of the lowveld in Mpumalanga – between Kaapmuiden and Barberton). A self-taught artist, Nukain transformed the arid landscape in the creek into a painted stone garden. Nukain died in 1981 and is buried in Barberton.
Fugard has fictionalised the Nukain Mabuza story. The first act takes place in 1981. On a Sunday morning, Nukain is decorating the rocks with bright colors and struggling to produce conventional floral images of flowers. Bokkie – his young apprentice/protégé– is there to assist him. The farmer’s wife wants something more floral/decorative on her land so Nukain – crushed by poverty and not having any rights in Apartheid South Africa –gives in and paints over his original designs. Bokkie is shattered. In the 2nd act, it’s about 1995. The images on the rocks have faded. Bokkie returns to the community. He is now known as Jonathan Sejake and is a school teacher and wants to restore the painted rock garden. The farmer’s wife is freaked out by his actions and presence on her land. Tensions are high. Apartheid is over but there is turmoil over killing of white farmers in the area and increasing violence over land distribution. Bokkie now faces off with the farmer’s wife. Or does he?
Dladla said that the confrontation in act 1 between the farmer’s wife and Nukain is “the very moment is the crux of the show. This is the very driving force behind every question and answer in the play. Bokkie is indeed shattered, but this is the only way that Jonathan Sejake can emerge. That pain shapes him and as a ripple shapes other through Jonathan. The 2nd act takes place, not long after Nelson Mandela is released. This is indeed a very angry, aggressive and shameful time. A now grown Bokkie emerges, not to face off but to teach much like the teacher he has become- to fulfil a promise that he made to himself and to the legacy of Nukain. The play is very moving. It’s personal. In a great way. It addresses current situations in our country. It makes one very uncomfortable and teaches us to feel for and with others. One can find themselves giggling here and there but I’d say -bring a few tissues.”
Image credit: Sne Dladla in The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. Image supplied by The Fugard Theatre.