national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


“Droomwerk” is simply brilliant and indicative of the relevance of theatre. (Review by Thomie Holtzhausen)

Pieter Odendaal’s debut play, Droomwerk, at the National Arts Festival is a masterpiece!

Despite never being staged before, the play was awarded the ATKV Woordveertjie for best new Afrikaans play (2021).

Odendaal digs deep into his own heritage as a white Afrikaans-speaking male born in the late 1980’s with his own personal demons. He juxtaposes it against the backdrop of his paternal grandfather, a Nationalist Party senator, colonialism and the unrecognised generation born as a result of slavery.

Superbly directed and designed by Kanya Viljoen, with Lwanda Sindaphi as associate director, the set is clinical and through effective underscoring by Jannous Aukema brings Odendaal’s magical use of language to life. Two beds; a grandfather dying seeking justification in past actions and the protagonist in a psychiatric ward seeking emancipation.

Jill Levenberg as Diana is mesmerizing. Johan Nel and Ben Albertyn as the grandfather and grandson transport the audience into their own individual worlds of pain, suffering and a quest for healing. Noluthando ‘Tyrish’ Mili’s performance of the nurse/sangoma was extremely real and poignant. Johann Vermaak completes a stellar cast.

The story’s landscape is Afrikaans yet it confronts the universal generational gaps experienced in an ever and fast-evolving climate of change.

Droomwerk is simply brilliant and indicative of the relevance of theatre.

Pieter Odendaal is a poet, playwright, translator and editor. His debut collection, asof geen berge ooit hier gewoon het nie (Tafelberg), received the 2019 Ingrid Jonker Prize. He was the executive director of InZync Poetry from 2015-2019 at Stellenbosch University. Odendaal recently received his PhD in Creative Writing from QUT in Brisbane, and was an Andrew W Mellon writer in residence at UCKAR in 2021. He currently lectures Creative Writing at NWU in Potchefstroom.

The play is currently on stage at the Rhodes Box at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda.

There is one more performance tomorrow (June 28) at 13h00 to 14h10. Bookings through – Thomie Holtzhausen