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Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg is looking for actors for its production of Dark Outsiderby Anthony Akerman, to be directed by Stephen Coan.

A cast of four men and two women is required for the production which is scheduled for October, with rehearsals starting in September. Roy Campbell – the ‘”Dark Outsider” of the title – is the focus of this two-act biographical play which revolves around issues of creativity and identity; concepts thrown into dramatic relief by the love affair of Campbell’s wife, Mary, with Vita Sackville-West.

This skilfully crafted play also explores the relationship between creativity and place. Pitting the vapid but confident ‘Old World’ aesthetes of the Bloomsbury group against the more rugged aesthetics of the ‘New World’ colonials; in turn, the English-speaking South African writers, Campbell and William Plomer, attempting a new aesthetic, are contrasted with the Afrikaner writers Laurens van der Post and Uys Krige.

The timeline of the play runs from 1925 to 1935 with a short postscript set in 1957. Brimming with humour and wit, Dark Outsiderwon the 1993 SACPAC Drama Prize and earned Akerman the 1995/96 Vita Playwright of the Year Award. It has not previously been performed in KwaZulu-Natal. The characters are:

Roy Campbell (1901-1957). Aged 24 at the beginning of the play. English-speaking South African (Natal) – ‘he speaks with a broad Natal accent’. Poet. The creative voluptuary. An imposing, driven character. Ebullient in manner with a deep core of self doubt and insecurity.

Mary Campbell (1898-1979). Age 27. His English wife. Though married to Campbell she clearly does not like life in ‘colonial’ South Africa. ‘She has a cultivated English accent’. Plays a guitar once.

William Plomer (1903-1973). Age 21. Novelist and poet; has just enjoyed success – and notoriety – with the publication of Turbott Wolfe. English-speaking South African (Natal). ‘His spectacles are round and his accent is impeccably English’. Diffident in manner.

Laurens van der Post (1906-1996). Age 19. Hockey-playing fit. Young writer (a journalist when the play opens) just starting out; catches a ride on Campbell and Plomer’s coat-tails. ‘His accent is that of a second language speaker striving for Oxbridge precision’.

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962). Age 35. Poet, novelist and gardener. Member of the English upper-classes. Air of world-weary aesthete disguises passionate, predatory, personality.

Uys Krige (1910-1987). Age 23. Rugby-playing fit. ‘He speaks rapidly with a lilting Cape-Afrikaans accent’.

Anyone wishing to audition for the play should make an appointment by phoning the Hexagon on 033 260 5537, or e-mailing