Sven Ruygrok is currently taking the dual lead role of Alan Strang in the Theatre on the Bay’s excellent production of Equus, He spoke to WeekendSpecial about the play, and a little bit more …
WeekendSpecial: So … Equus. Firstly, could you describe your role in the production?
Sven Ruygrok: An intense 17 year old boy with a deep connection to religion, who blinds six horses one night in the stable. Alan is sent to psychiatrist Martin Dysart for treatment during which Alan slowly discloses details about his repressed childhood and his fascination with horses. He eventually reveals the secret rituals he practices in praise of Equus, the horse-god he has invented.
WeekendSpecial: And how does it feel to take on such a famous, and also challenging, part?
Sven Ruygrok: Incredible! I love great writing and this is a great play! It allows one to sink ones teeth into something meaty. With that comes deep insecurity’s but also a lot of excitement.
WS: Did you watch any video clips of other productions, to get a feel, or is this actually a distraction?
SR: Absolutely. I tried to get my hands on anything I could find! I think it can only help. The greater the pool to draw from the deeper you can swim.
WS: How has it been, re-uniting with (director) Fred Abrahamse and (designer) Marcel Meyer – you’ve worked with them on other productions before (Epstein, A Midsummer Night’s Dream etc)?
SR: Truly wonderful. I think they are truly talented! There is already a history and a deep trust which means we can get on with the work at hand without tip-toeing around each other. I trust both of them enough to be completely honest with me. It’s such safe space to work from.
WS: We believe you’re actually a trained gymnast, with national colours, and were selected to join the Cirque du Soleil when you were younger. Did this spark your interest in performance?
SR: Yes, that is all very true – however it was not what sparked my interest in performance. Gymnastics gave me the discipline to become an actor but I believe the creativity comes from my family. My grandfather from my dad’s side was a great musician and my grandmother on my mom’s side is a phenomenal storyteller. My mom also studied acting so it was part of our family culture but it was not something that I was very keen to get into.
WS: Do people still come up to you and call you Rambo, from your role in the Spud movies?
SR: Yes, I got shouted at by someone from their car two weeks ago! “Hey, RAMBO!”
WS: What was the last show you saw, and how did you find it?
SR: The last thing I watched was Into The Woods (at the Theatre on the Bay) – my wife is a fan of musical theatre. The last TV shows I watched were the Umbrella Academy and Fleabag.
WS: Please tell us something about yourself that others may not know or suspect?
SR: I am sadly attached to my pillow. I can’t travel or go anywhere without it!
WS: What do you like to do when you relax?
SR: Make a pot of tea (don’t skip the process…I mean go all out, tea-cosy, milk jug etc…), take a great fantasy novel with and sit in Kirstenbosch and read!
Where and when: Theatre on the Bay from 29 March to 20 April 2019