The award-winning theatre-creator Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck, has adapted Green Point resident and writer Herman Lategan’s best-selling Afrikaans memoir, Hoerkind (Penguin), into a play, which will première at the Artscape on Saturday April 29 as part of the Suidoosterfees.
Mr Lategan says the writing style of the book does not have a literary slant; it is more like a fireside-chat, and the Afrikaans will not be difficult for English-speaking theatregoers to understand.
The title Hoerkind refers to the derogatory term used against him as a child, as Mr Lategan was born in the sixties out of wedlock. He writes about his early years growing up in colourful boarding houses full of outsiders in Tamboerskloof.
At 6 he had to go to an orphanage, because his mother was too poor to raise him.
Later his mother marries, his stepfather shoots at him and tries to rape him. At 13, he ends up in the clutches of a paedophile who was a leading South African arts journalist.
Both his parents became alcoholics and died young. He, too, became dependent on alcohol and drugs. At one point he sleeps on the streets.
One night he is held hostage in his apartment and stabbed with a knife. He almost lost his leg in a car accident after visiting Mannetjies Roux’s farm and was out of action for almost a year.
He makes many mistakes but learns valuable lessons as his life evolves. “This is not a story of self-pity; it is one of endurance against all odds,” he says.
Ms Meyer-Rödenbeck says: “In this play (75 minutes long) we get to know Herman as a little boy who lives with his mother, who he adores. But circumstances make it impossible for him to stay with her.
“His life path has many twists and turns and very often things unravel. The continuous theme is one of a person who, despite everything, keeps moving forward with conviction.”
Editor and journalist, Chris Roper, wrote: “Ostensibly the story of Herman Lategan’s life as an illegitimate child and troubled adult, growing up, surviving and ultimately thriving in pre-and post-apartheid South Africa, Hoerkind is also the biography of a city. The carnivalesque trauma of Lategan’s youth and the vicissitudes of his adulthood are mirrored in the fractured historical evolution of Cape Town. The book presents both in a way that is loving and forgiving, but without losing sight of some hard and familiar realities. Fun to read, emotionally complex, and deeply satisfying, Hoerkind is more than just the story of a life. It’s also a paean to possible futures.”
Ms Meyer-Rödenbeck directs the play and acclaimed actor Geon Nel plays the lead. Actor and writer Francois Toerien adapted the text, the assistant director and stage manager is Jeanne Steenkamp, the soundtrack is by Coenraad Rall and the set-design by Gerrit Snyman.
Hoerkind can be seen at the Artscape on Saturday April 29 at 8.30pm and on Monday May 1 at 11.30am. No under-18s. Tickets are R125. Book at Computicket.
It will also be staged at Die Boer Theatre Restaurant in Durbanville on Tuesday May 16 at 8.30pm. Book by calling 021 979 1911 or log on to www.dieboer.com for more information. Die Koelkamers in Paternoster will stage Hoerkind on Friday May 19 at 7pm. Book at www.diekoelkamers.com