Die Vrou op die Skuit by Elsa Muller


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and artslink.co.za and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


HOLIDAY TIME BECKONS and a young white South African family comprising two little girls, a teenaged son and their parents are readying themselves for their annual seaside vacation. Bessie (Simonè Benjamin) is but 19. She’s brown. And she’s employed as the family’s nanny. And she’s never seen the sea in her life. The children want to show her. The children also want to allow her to play, and fate steps into the breach. Thus begins the new season of Afrikaans-language radio theatre on Radio Sonder Grense, with Elise Muller’s short story Die Vrou op die Skuit.

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This pretty love story cast under the sheen of extreme modesty and the uncomfortable sense of euphemism that comes of a young woman of colour doing the domestic tasks of a white South African family, but there’s a twist in the tale that may make you think of hardy brown women of the ilk of Fiela Komoetie in Brett Michael Innes’ recent portrayal of the classic Dalene Matthee story, Fiela se Kind. It’s a tale of…

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