7de Laan stars Zane Meas and Christo Davids present Van Wyk The Storyteller of Riverlea, the story of Chris van Wyk, at the Baxter Flipside from 12 to 29 June 2019.

Zane Meas and Christo Davids in Van Wyk the Storyteller of Riverlea. Picture: Brett Rubin
Zane Meas and Christo Davids in Van Wyk the Storyteller of Riverlea. Picture: Brett Rubin

These two award-winning South African stage and TV stars have once again teamed up for the production for a limited season at 7.30pm nightly. This follows a sold-out run at The Market Theatre earlier in 2019.

South African author Chris Van Wyk

Created and performed by Meas, directed by Christo Davids, The Storyteller of Riverlea explores the life of renowned South African author Chris Van Wyk – his influence as a poet and a writer and as a political activist, as well as his family life and his battle with cancer. It pays homage to his humour, political values and his storytelling abilities.

Zane and Christo both performed as Chris Van Wyk in Janice Honeyman’s adaptation of Shirley, Goodness and Mercy which played to full houses in the Baxter Theatre Centre’s production which was also staged at the Market Theatre in 2008. The Storyteller of Riverlea marks the fifth collaboration between the two soapie stars, in a partnership that spans 12 years.

Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom

Van Wyk grew up in the coloured suburb of Riverlea, south of Johannesburg – a community which he later lovingly brought to life in Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (2004) and Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch (2010). He adapted Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom into a book for young readers and wrote a series of short biographies of liberation struggle figures for school children.

A Message in the Wind, published in 1982, won the Maskew Miller Longman Award for Children’s Literature. His memoirs pay tribute to the strong women in his family and community, particularly his mother (the “Shirley” of the title) and grandmother.

In 1979, Van Wyk published one of the most-quoted anti-apartheid poems, In Detention, which appeared in the collection It is Time to Go Home and for which he received the Olive Schreiner Prize. He wrote over 20 books, including poetry collections and children’s books. . In 1996 he received the Sanlam Prize for the best South African short story for Magic.

Much of Chris Van Wyk writing may be viewed as an enactment of what Njabulo Ndebele called “the rediscovery of the ordinary”. In the ordinariness of life, he found his inspiration; but his imagination and craftsmanship transformed it into something extraordinary, even magical. In Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch Van Wyk explains that “writing a memoir is a little like travelling into your own past. Unlike science fiction, you can’t change the past. But, like science fiction, it does have its own magic.”

There has been a long association between Meas, Van Wyk and Davids. Zane and Chris collaborated on a one-man play about Chris’ childhood friend, William Smith, entitled Smith 4113. The title was derived the prison number which Smith was assigned while he was detained for his political activities in the 70’s.

Christo Davids recently wrote and directed the award-winning play My Seuns. which won multiple awards for Best Production, Best Director, Ground-breaking New Work, Best Script and Best Supporting Actor at the 2018 Aardklop Festival. At the Baxter, in recent years, he was seen in My Naam is Ellen Pakkies and Scrooge.

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What: Van Wyk The Storyteller of Riverlea
Where: Baxter Flipside, 12 to 29 June 2019, 7.30pm
Tickets: R120, Mondays- Wednesdays, R150 Thursdays – Saturdays, R100 scholars, student, block-bookings
Booking: www.webtickets.co.za