Tag Archives: Baxter Theatre

Operation Oysterhood: 6 October

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

The show must go on! It’s time for theatre again as the Baxter reopens its doors – with care (small, physically distanced, audiences) – to theatre lovers. I can’t wait! And when one is gallivanting with an outlaw, a mask is a must, so it should all feel ‘in character’, as they say.

I am going to the theatre! It sounds unbelievable, and yet it is true. That’s the magic of it all.

Today, after some admin and an early manuscript meeting on a beach (almost), I spent the day catsitting one of my love’s cats who had spent a few days at the vet’s and needed some furry love after the ordeal. While she made herself at home again, I continued with my work until it was time for dinner (I cooked fish for her and for my love – not sure who liked it more).

Then home to my own Furry Ones (with fish leftovers, of course!) and a Skype call with Mom and Krystian and some more admin, and now, I am falling over and heading in the direction of Morpheus’s arms.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


Why I am buying the Baxter a cup of coffee every month for a year

Baxter Theatre

I love the theatre; I have loved it ever since I can remember. The six theatre venues I regularly visit in Cape Town are the Fugard Theatre, the Baxter Theatre, the Kalk Bay Theatre, the Artscape, Maynardville, and the Courtyard Playhouse. My favourite stage is the Golden Arrow Studio Theatre at the Baxter. I love its intimacy and immediacy; if I can, I sit in the first row and watch the wonder of acting unfold right before my eyes…

So when I got Lara Foot’s letter this morning, asking for support for the Baxter, I was immediately flooded by memories of this incredible space, a home for the arts, a home for art lovers, and when I imagined that it could cease to exist, a cold shiver ran down my spine. It is unimaginable…

The earliest distinct memory I have of the Baxter is from 2005: André’s 70th birthday celebration in the foyer during which Antjie Krog gave an amazing speech I will never forget.

I fell in love with that smallest venue at the Baxter when watching Exits and Entrances on this stage. Most recently, I saw The Hucksters there. And before it: Waiting for the Barbarians, and There Was This Goat, and Mother to Mother, and #JustMen, Solomon and Marion, and and and… The memories keep coming.

Only last year in November, we listened to Anthony Marwood play in the Baxter’s concert hall.

And remember that moment when Roger Federer dropped in during the Rolex Arts Weekend? Difficult to think that this was only the other day…


My brother and I sat near the stage and couldn’t believe our eyes. We also got to chat to Tracy K. Smith again. We heard her perform years ago in New York and I became a fan. She signed the copies of all my books and agreed to pose for a photograph.

Meeting Tracy K. Smith at the Baxter

There are also memories of pain and solace at the Baxter. In my memoir, I wrote:

In the weeks of grief and recuperation which followed, I found myself anchorless, adrift and vulnerable. There is no peace in fear for a loved one. No place to hide in the face of death. I read and wrote through the nights, stared into darkness. All scattered and breathless, I watched Lara Foot’s play Fishers of Hope at the Baxter. The staging, despite the harsh realities of the lives portrayed, soothed me. In many scenes, a short clip of a sunset on a lake rising in swells with a fishing boat in the centre played against the back wall of the stage. Towards the end of the performance, the woman protagonist stood on a jetty, and her triumphant cry and her song for fish and plenty resounded across the lake’s waters. Her strength was a reassurance.

Other unforgettable plays that I watched on these stages were Somewhere on the Border, Mies Julie, Betrayal, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, among so many others…

Philida van de Delta, the musical, was performed at the Baxter.

And, of course, that is where Joanne Hichens and I heard the fantastic news that we would receive a NAC grant to compile and edit the anthology HAIR: Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity.

It was one of the most joyous projects I have ever worked on, and it felt incredible to be able to ask writers and photographers to contribute and to actually offer them payment for their work. This is not always common in our field of work…

Most of you won’t know it, but I am actually an award-winning playwright. Writing for the theatre is not my main line of literary interest, but I found it extremely rewarding to work on the play and I have at least one more play in me that will be written one day. I am also one of those readers who reads plays, even if I have never seen them performed on stage. But to witness a play unfold live in front of your eyes is magic in its purest form.

There are so many reasons why the show must go on.

If like me, you would like to become a #BaxterCoffeeAngels, click here: BAXTER COFFEE ANGELS – buy the Baxter a coffee, and if you can, add a piece of cake or a glass of wine, too.


Philida van de Delta

I remember the pages of the manuscripts spread all around our lounge floor: Afrikaans, English, several versions of each, all a complete muddle. André and I going around with scissors and Sellotape, piecing the different scenes together, then transferring the final ‘cut’ to the computer, editing, correcting, arguing, crying, laughing, and every inch of the way loving the story and the remarkable woman at its centre – those were the final stages of André’s last novel, Philida (2012), longlisted for the Man Booker later that year just in time for the publication.

She arrived like all stories do, unexpected.

A phone call from a man who’d bought a farm near Franschhoek. An uncanny family connection. A museum opening. A barefoot girl with a heart full of courage. No wonder André fell in love with her. She walked straight into his imagination. And now she is stepping out of the pages of his book into the songs of her descendants.
The people living, working and making music at Solms Delta have read Philida and turned her story into a musical.

I was invited to see the premier at the Baxter Theatre last night.
Since André’s death, I have been unable to predict what will give me joy, what will hurt me. Everything is different now. What I believe will be difficult for me, turns out to be easy. At times, the easy stuff becomes impossible. Yesterday’s performance was utterly beautiful in all respects – simply stunning! Yet, it completely broke me. I wasn’t the only one who’d shed tears while following Philida’s moving story. I sat next to Tracey Randle, the wonderful historian who’d helped André do research for the book, and to Beverley Scott, mother of the late Alex van Heerden who, with his talent, charisma and enthusiasm, had brought music to the farm in the first place. We all cried, but I was the only one who had to leave, sobbing uncontrollably, just after the show.
André and Alex should have been there last night, not only in the words and the music on stage, not only in our hearts…
The beautiful young woman who sang Philida was the embodiment of André’s vision. He would have wept with all of us had he seen her come alive across space and time at the Baxter last night. The entire cast and the musicians were pure magic. They made my heart sing. The evening, though, broke it, too. And I was not prepared. I wish I could have said thank you or at least goodbye, but all I was capable of was finding refuge in the spare bedroom of my friends’ house which since early February has been on standby for such moments when being alone is not a viable option for me.
I am humbled by the experience in all kinds of ways, and grateful. So many lives have been touched, changed, transformed for the better in all these years since we first heard Mark Solms’ message on our answering machine, that he wanted to meet, to tell us a story…
Thank you.

at the 5th Annual Zabalaza Festival at the Baxter
Company – Solms Delta
Writer – Members of Delta Soetstemme choir, facilitated by Amelda Brand
Director – Amelda Brand
Delta Soetstemme choir, facilitated by Adriaan Brand, Leonore Bredekamp, Nick Turner, Amelda Brand and Jervis Pennington
Songs arrangement – Delta Langbroek band, musically facilitated by Adriaan Brand and Carlo Fabe
Language(s) – Afrikaans
Performance Dates & Times:
27 March @ 16h00 – BAXTER Concert Hall