Plum Tree – A child’s experience of molestation

Plum Tree stars Jan Groenewald (Photo by Tony Garland)
Plum Tree stars Jan Groenewald (Photo by Tony Garland)

Plum Tree, a true story of a child’s journey, is back at the Foxwood Theatre in Houghton in June with two performances on Sunday 3 and 10 June at 15:00.

Plum Tree – lost innocence, betrayal and violation and the transformation of these adversities into growth, empowerment and riches – is written and acted by Jan Groenewald and directed by South African musician, composer, actor, writer and theatre director, Godfrey Johnson.

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Chris van der West
Chris van der West

This extraordinary production has now been enhanced by the addition of harpist Chris van der West who provides sensitive and intuitive background musical accompaniment to Groenewald’s play.

Van der West has performed at numerous national and international tours, arts festivals, concerts in the Seychelles, Holland, Dubai and Macau with some of the finest singers and musicians from South Africa and the UK.

Plum Tree stars Jan Groenewald (Photo by Tony Garland)
Plum Tree stars Jan Groenewald (Photo by Tony Garland)

Groenewald takes you on a disturbing journey of childhood sexual violation; he re-creates his world as a young boy who resorted to intertwining fantasy with reality to escape what he refuses to confront. Told with warmth and humour, the text reaches far beyond this childhood experience, it becomes a tense battle between good and evil, and ultimately a story of sweet revenge.

‘It takes tremendous strength to confront the demons of society, but sharing it in Plum Tree has brought healing,” he says.

He wrote Pruimboom (in Afrikaans) in 2014 while receiving chemotherapy for cancer. As an old man in the face of imminent death, he was forced to confront what he had always evaded – private and intimate memories that had haunted him throughout his life. It became important to him to leave a document behind of his story of victory, to console and inspire young people who often suffer years of mental agony following episodes of child abuse.

Plum Tree stars Jan Groenewald (Photo by Tony Garland)
Plum Tree stars Jan Groenewald (Photo by Tony Garland)

His celebrated his recovery by taking Pruimboom to South African festivals. In 2015 it was translated by Clive Rodel into English; in 2017 Plum Tree, the English version premièred at the Foxwood Theatre, after which it had a run at Artscape in Cape Town and then went to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where it received critical acclaim.

“One of the most powerful shows we’ve seen so far is Plum Tree by Foxwood Theatre from South Africa… Jan Groenewald is a 70-year-old man, who tells a true story … It’s a harrowing tale … told brilliantly.” Jeremy Nicholas, UK broadcaster

“A beautifully crafted and performed tale. A harrowing story, yet I left the performance filled with courage and hope. Well worth a visit.” Fiona Bennett – St Augustine’s Church Edinburgh August 2017

“Plum Tree is a provocative tour-de-force of innocence lost. It’s the heart-wrenching journey of a young man’s ability to transform adversity, betrayal and violation to growth, empowerment and riches. Plum Tree is courageous.” Brenda Kali

Foxwood Theatre logo
Foxwood Theatre

Plum Tree – Sunday 3 and 10 June at 15:00 – Tickets: R100 (discount for pensioners and students) – Bookings:

Foxwood Theatre, 13, 5th Street (not avenue), Houghton Estate, Johannesburg (GPS: 26′ 09′ 44, 28″S 28′ 03′ 10, 19″E) 011 486 0935 / / website:


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