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  • Liesl Frankson

The Life and Times of Sandra Prinsloo

The Life and Times of Michael K, a Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and Baxter Theatre co-production, previews at the Baxter Theatre from 7 to 16 June 2021. Mosadi Online caught up with multi-award-winning actress Sandra Prinsloo about her role in the production.


Sandra Prinsloo. Photo: Fiona MacPherson
Sandra Prinsloo. Photo: Fiona MacPherson

Tell us about your character in the show?


I am delighted to play six characters in this production of Life and Times of Michael K. I play the role of narrator, plus five other characters - a midwife, a nurse, a woman on a bus, a pale plump boy, and a train ticket seller. As a cast, we never leave the stage and transform into our respective characters on stage.


Which role do you love most?

Being a narrator in this play is wonderful – they are usually the storytellers who are direct links to the narrative, they are closely involved with the story at all times and the role is fundamental to bringing it together. I am delighted because I think it is the first that I am performing such a role.


What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?

I think the biggest challenge is to stay true to JM Coetzee’s brilliant narrative and to always be totally present, even when you are not saying or doing anything in the scene. It is imperative to remain present (so to say) in the story, in the moment, all the time and this takes immense and intense concentration.


If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be?

I am completely content playing the characters I am in the play – each one of them has their own character and purpose.


What will the audience love about this show?


Audiences will fall in love with the story of Michael K and the story of the journey. It is total ensemble work and beautifully layered and I love working like this. It feels like a luxury to be working with such a big and magnificent cast and creative team. This is not possible these days with limited budgets in the arts and uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic still amongst us.


I am really enjoying working with such a passionate and committed cast, each one of them bringing their varied skills, experience, and unique talent to the rehearsal room and the production. It is a privilege to once again be working with the extraordinary Lara Foot (adaptor, writer, and director).


She directed Kamphoer, my last one-person show, which won the production several awards for which I am grateful. Then there’s Andrew Buckland and Faniswa Yisa and, of course, the Tony award-winning Handspring Puppet Company (from War Horse-fame), with who I have always wanted to work.


Sandra Prinsloo. Photo: Fiona MacPherson
Sandra Prinsloo. Photo: Fiona MacPherson

Besides yourself, which actor in this production is going to blow people away?

Quite frankly, the entire production with its multiple layers of puppetry, performance, film, and music will blow audiences away.


The puppets are truly exquisite and how they are being held and operated by the puppeteers is compelling. The story is prophetic as it touches on so much that is happening in South Africa and the world, today.


Who’s the funniest person in the cast in real life?

That is Faniswa Yisa. She is a brilliant artist, and she makes us laugh.


Is it easier to play a character or to be yourself on stage?

It is always best to be yourself on stage in a play so that the audience can relate to your honesty as an artist. It is in some ways a heightened performance of parts of yourself but it always a character.


As an artist, you delve into yourself to find something that suits the role to best bring the character to life and I have played over 150 characters in a career that spans over five decades.


What makes a good scene partner?

It is vital to be respectful and in sync with any other performers on stage. The ones who are generous, considerate, and who give 100% of themselves, somebody who shares.


When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?

I simply take a deep breath and drink a cup of black rooibos tea. And sometimes I even go back to the script to calmly relook at it.


What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?

I love hiking, diving, sailing, and hiking with my dogs when I have time. I also love traveling when we’re not trying to navigate our way through the CODVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. But we all have to do our bit to be safe.


If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?

Anything that is directed by Lara Foot, Christiaan Olwagen and Sylvanie Strike.


What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?

I take a deep breath and anchor myself so that I can immerse myself into the role and character that I play.


The special preview season of Nobel Prize-winning author JM Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K is adapted for the stage by Lara Foot, in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company, and takes place from 7 to 16 June 2021 at 7 pm nightly.


The world premiere will be live-streamed from The Baxter at the opening of the prestigious Theater der Welt Festival at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus in Germany, on 17 and 18 June 2021.


The highly anticipated co-production between Theater der Welt Festival, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Baxter Theatre Centre, and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, brings together some of South Africa’s most revered, multi-award-winning artists including Sandra Prinsloo, Andrew Buckland, Faniswa Yisa, puppet master Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam, Carlo Daniels, Marty Kintu, Billy Langa, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, along with German puppeteer Markus Schabbing.


Author: Liesl Frankson

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