‘Die Reuk van Appels’ comes to State Theatre

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Die reuk van appels. Photo by Jan Potgieter and National Arts Festival 2017
Die reuk van appels. Photo by Jan Potgieter and National Arts Festival 2017

Amid a heavy scheduled SA tour, the play capturing brutal consequences of apartheid will be showing at State Theatre from 1 to 24 September.

Die reuk van appels is the acclaimed 1993 debut novel of South African author Mark Behr. This seminal work was adapted for the stage and debuted in April 2017 at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in Oudtshoorn. Die reuk van appels is the coming-of-age story of Marnus Erasmus, 11-year-old son of a South African Defence Force (SADF) general. It eloquently captures the Afrikaner mentality in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the brutal consequences of apartheid and militarisation of South African life.

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Die reuk van appels. Photo by Jan Potgieter and National Arts Festival 2017
Die reuk van appels. Photo by Jan Potgieter and National Arts Festival 2017

Upon publication and subsequent translation into English (as The Smell of Apples) that same year, this landmark Afrikaans novel catapulted Behr into the ranks of young and talented dissident voices such as Etienne van Heerden and Koos Prinsloo (Tony Eprile, New York Times). Before his untimely death on 27 November 2015, Behr was a professor of creative writing at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

Since reading the novel for the first time, Johan van der Merwe of the newly established production company Theatrerocket has hankered to produce Die reuk van appels for the stage. When he teamed up with co- theatre afficionado Rudi Sadler in 2015, it was an obvious choice for their first venture as a production company.

Die reuk van appels. Photo by Stephanie Gericke.
Die reuk van appels. Photo by Stephanie Gericke.

Van der Merwe and Sadler have assembled a stellar team of theatre-makers to realise their dream. Johann Smith, versatile writer for stage and screen from Pretoria, has turned prize-winning novel into a viable theatre script. Gideon Lombard (…miskien, The View, Special Thanks to Guests from Afar, Orpheus in Africa) performs the role of the hapless Marnus under the guidance of award-winning director Lara Bye (Yellowman, London Road, Oscar en die Pienk Tannie, Vaslav), while Kosie Smit is responsible for the lighting design and Lombard, also a talented musician, for sound design. Die reuk van appels is Gideon’s acclaimed debut solo performance and he subsequently received the Best Actor Award at the 2017 Kanna Awards for his performance at KKNK.

Die reuk van appels has just returned from the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown) where it was invited to be performed as part of the Main programme. After a run at State Theatre will continue to tour across the country to several major arts festivals and theatres including Aardklop Kunstefees (Potchefstroom) and the Fugard Theatre (Cape Town).

Please note that the production has an age restriction of 16, with the guidelines SNLVP (Sex, Nudity, Language, Violence and Prejudice).

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