Florian Zeller’s The Mother (translated from French to English by Christopher Hampton) is set to have its South African premiere at the Fugard Studio in February. An Eric Abraham and Fugard Theatre production The Mother will be directed by Janice Honeyman and features an all South African cast headed by Anna-Mart van der Merwe (Anne) with Graham Hopkins, Sven Ruygrok and Amy Louise Wilson.

The story goes: Anne loved that time in her life when she prepared breakfast each morning for her two young children, Sara and Nicholas. Now her children have grown up and have lives and loves of their own. Spending hours alone, Anne’s world begins to twist around her. Has her favoured son Nicholas really returned to her? And what of the suspicious actions of her husband?

The premiere of The Mother follows a South African premiere run of its companion piece The Father in November 2016, directed by Greg Karvellas.

Anna-Mart van der Merwe in ‘The Mother’

We spoke to Anna-Mart van der Merwe about the show and more:

What can you tell us about the storyline of The Mother, please?

The husband is about to go off to a seminar … or is it a weekend away with his mistress? The son comes to stay to keep an eye on his mother who is struggling emotionally at the moment … or is his sleep-over all in her imagination? Truth and lies and labyrinths. Classic Florian Zeller style!

And how does it relate to The Father?

Same writer and style of unpacking the inner human story of the characters.

You are involved in many forms of acting – stage, television, film.  What motivates you to choose the projects that you do?

It is a combination of the script, being challenged as an artist, the contribution the project can make in terms of society and conversations that it hopefully will unleash, and the other people involved.

If we are right, you have a special relationship with The Fugard Theatre and Athol Fugard himself. Would you care to say any more on this?

The Fugard Theatre is a great establishment to work for and Athol Fugard is an icon who taught me again about humility and respect – how fragile and unique every human being on this earth is.

What inspires you about SA theatre at the moment?

The new generation is taking over theatre managements and festival managements with a more global approach. If the government and business can help financially and with infrastructure, the South African cultural landscape can become breathtakingly exciting. We are a volatile, outspoken nation. Our cultural life should reflect, deflect and help us channel ourselves.

And if you could suggest anything to boost/improve/support local theatre, what would it be?

Please go and visit your theatre or any other cultural space wherever you live!

What would you say to young theatre-makers who are embarking on their careers – what words of advice?

Stick to your own truth, identity and vision with your eyes, ears and heart wide open.

When you are not onstage, what do you like to do to relax?

Visit friends and family. Read, garden, travel, walk and sleep …

That said – are you more of a beach person, a wine farm fundi or a serial series watcher?

If I have to choose it will be the wine farm, but sitting under our oak tree at home with a good glass of wine is the best.

Could you please tell us one thing about yourself that most people would not know/suspect?

I am completely mad about the world of architecture and can never have enough tea light candles.

Where and when: The Fugard Theatre, 7 February to March 4. No Under 16s

Book: Computicket

WS