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Sunday, August 4, 2019


As with Twist Projects’ two former publications, this is a hugely valuable teaching guide for those in – or thinking about getting involved in – the performing arts or film world. (Review by Caroline Smart

Acting in South Africa: Skills and Interpretations, written by Roel Twijnstra and Emma Durden of the Twist Theatre Development Projects based in Durban, is the third book in a series that provides guidelines for prime development as an actor/actress in South Africa.

In his foreword, Han Peters, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Africa, comments: “In an ever-growing and transforming world our society is at risk of losing its ability to connect and genuinely interact at a personal level. How can we ensure the inclusion of humaneness in the development of our society? How do we look at the world today and communicate about it? An obvious answer is that we can do this through the arts. The arts are the “canary in the coalmine”, providing early indicators of social challenges in society.”

The authors state: “This book can’t teach you to be a great actor or guarantee you a place in the industry. But you can pick it up and be inspired by the stories of others who have made it. You can read through the interviews with directors and agents and understand what different people are looking for, and what makes the difference between being hired or not.”

“If you aren’t a nice person to work with, you aren’t likely to find work!” they add.

Ten top theatre/film personalities, several of them Durban-based, were asked for their comments on how to survive in the acting profession. These include Andrew Buckland; David Dennis; Dawn Thandeka King; Dr Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha; Ntando Menzi Mncube; Jailoshini Naidoo; Pretty Ncayiyana; Bongeka Phindile Felicia Ndlovu, and Grant Swanby.

Interviewed about what they look for when casting for or working with actors are further top personalities Sarah Blecher; Jill Bell; David Gouldie; Duma Ndlovu, Mbongeni Ngema, Yula Quinn, and Fiona Ramsay.

Advice from these 17 successful personalities includes giving strong focus to keeping the body and the voice (especially through proper breathing) in good condition; professionalism; proper attention to the text; respect for others, unselfishness and being open to direction. Added guidance is self-confidence without egotism and an awareness of life itself. Warnings include not being drawn in by glitz and glamour and a desire to become stars.

Always welcome criticism without anger and don’t panic if you don’t succeed at an audition. My late husband, who was an artistes’ agent used to say: “Look on it as free advertising!” In other words, you have given those directors an idea of your talent and perhaps some time in the future, they will remember you as being suitable for another part.

The book also highlights the difference in performance required for acting for stage – where you have to “perform” - as opposed to acting for film or television where you need to be “real”. Other advice is to get as much experience wherever you can.

Acting in South Africa: Skills and Interpretations is a hugely valuable teaching guide and follows volumes in directing and production – herewith a quote from my reviews:

Theatre Directing in South Africa: Skills and Inspirations – “An invaluable asset to upcoming as well as established directors.” (2014)

Theatre Production in South Africa: Skills and Inspirations - “Excellent publication is an absolute must for anyone venturing into the challenging world of theatre production.” (2016)

All three books are available on Amazon as e-books.

Acting in South Africa: Skills and inspirations will be launched at the Bat Centre Mission Control on August 17 at 17h00.

The publication of this book was made possible through sponsorship from the National Lotteries Commission via Twist Theatre Development Projects; and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa. – Caroline Smart