Theatre interview: Bianca Flanders’ heart is full – being back on stage in Krotoa Eva van de Kaap– on December 8-18, 2021- in the Artscape Arena

Who: Bianca Flanders –starring in Krotoa Eva van de Kaap

Where: Artscape Arena, Cape Town
When: December 8-18, 2021, Wednesdays to Fridays at 6pm and Saturdays at 1pm and 6pm. 
Tickets: R100 and R80 for students, upon presentation of valid ID
Booking link:  https://tickets.computicket.com/event/krotoa_eva_van_de_kaap/7072667

Writer: Sylvia Vollenhoven
Director: Basil Appollis
Performers: Bianca Flanders and Geon Nel On-stage musicians: Frazer Barry and Riku Lätti  Lighting design: Fahiem Bardien  

Cape Town’s Bianca Flanders is starring in Sylvia Vollenhoven’s gripping play, Krotoa Eva van de Kaap which is a co-production with Het Volksoperahuis in The Netherlands. This evocative, intense and beautifully imaged play, was staged in Cape Town in 2019 at Artscape. I was privileged to attend the 2019 staging and was wowed by the script, performances and elegiac music. It returns to the Arena at Artscape from December 8-18, 2021. The play is set in contemporary Cape Town with two actors on a film set: Flanders plays Sam a South African actress and Geon Nel plays Thijs, a Dutch actor. They are acting in a film in which they take on the roles of Krotoa and Jan van Riebeeck. Krotoa – Eva van de Kaap – was the Khoe young woman who was co-opted into van Riebeeck’s household. Thijs takes on the roles of Jan van Riebeeck- the VOC colonial merchant boss who set up the refreshment station at the Cape in 1652 and also plays Krotoa’s husband, Danish Surgeon Pieter van Meerhoff. Despite all the disruptions of Covid and the Omicron variant, the show is going on. Flanders says her heart is “full”.

Back on stage with Krotoa Eva van de Kaap

Flanders is thrilled to stepping back onto the stage. “It’s absolutely wonderful. Because of Covid I pretty much haven’t been on a stage in two years so my heart is full. And what a powerful show to come back into the theatre with. I know I’m not the only one hungry for the theatre, so I hope the audience is as excited as I am. “

The journey of the play – from 2018- to Rona in Cape Town 2021

I saw this compelling piece of theatre in 2019 at Artscape. Before Cape Town, it premièred in Holland. After the Artscape run it was staged in the Free State. There were other seasons in the works but everything was halted because of Covid. This is the 4th season of Krotoa Eva van de Kaap. A quick pivot had to be actioned with the new Rona variant and travel bans as the Dutch actor, Kees Scholten who plays van Riebeeck, was not able to get to South Africa. For this Artscape Arena season, he has been replaced by Geon Nel. Riku Lätti from South Africa has replaced Jef Hofmeister – the Dutch musician who also took on an acting role. Frazer Barry reprises his role as actor/musician. He is South African so no change was required.  This must have been challenging as the four creatives had worked as an ensemble for three seasons and they had to swiftly rehearse with two new artists? Flanders: “It was challenging because of the amount of time we had. Luckily Geon and Riku are not only exceptionally talented, but also hardworking so they had the gist of the show in no time. It’s amazing what we were about to achieve in a week. Frazer and I also haven’t performed the show in about three years, so it was probably the best time to do it with new cast members. We get to look at the production with fresh eyes.”

The magic of theatre – suspending disbelief

The play is set in contemporary times on a film set. It’s not a history play or a docu-drama and Vollenhoven has framed it brilliantly in terms of being accessible for audinces – now. The two actors are shooting a film about Krotoa, on location, close to the coast in Cape Town. We have been in lockdown and masks are core to our lives. I wondered if there are references in this production to signal that we are that this is ‘now’ in Rona, with the actors masking up and sanitising while on set. Flanders: “No, it was decided to keep the play in the time that it was written. We’ve spent so much time thinking and worrying about Covid -and rightly so.  I think that it’s a nice break to forget about for 90 minutes. That is the magic of the theatre- we suspend disbelief. I think including Covid would warrant a complete re-write. It’s not as simple as just sanitising. The play deals with subjects like death and loss, it would be strange to not then write about that during this time.”

Bianca Flanders has been busy- children’s book, Xmas film and TV series

Bianca Flanders directed and wrote, her first feature film – Christmas film – Nativity – which airs on M-Net, Showmax from December 24 and there is a lot more. “It’s been a wonderfully busy year [2021] for me. I just finished shooting Troukoors, a new series that will start on Showmax on December 13. My second children’s book, Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness, has also just been released, so that’s been pretty exciting. I’d love to develop the Pumpkin character into a series. The second book, Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness has just been released in English and Afrikaans. I absolutely love this character and it’s been great to see the way kids and grownups respond to her. I hope that she has many more adventures.”

✳This interview has been marginally edited. Image supplied.