What a pleasant surprise awaited me when I recently went to the theater presentation of Rudie van Rensburg’s ever-popular comedy, Hans crosses the Rubiconwatched.
The text was adapted into a one-person play with a clever interpretation by Charlie Bougeunon. He not only gives life to the 90-year-old Hans van Kraaienburg on stage, but also to 15 other characters.
With the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) kicking off soon in Oudtshoorn, a selection of theater productions await festival-goers, but it can admittedly be a difficult decision to choose which you should buy tickets for.
Immediately after the show, I beckoned Charlie closer to hear if he enjoyed the text as much as theatergoers. In short, he experiences a party when he is on stage.
“It’s so much fun doing this piece, and what’s almost even more fun is experiencing how the audiences enjoy it with me. Especially when I see people leave the theater with a bounce in their step after the show.”
Hans crosses the Rubicon is not an unknown story. With four books already published, and a fifth one on the way, readers have already thoroughly enjoyed the antics of Hans and his friends. Then there is also the reading which was recorded by Tobie Cronje and broadcast to the great delight of RSG listeners.
Just to summarize the story in a nutshell: Hans crosses the Rubicon tells how Hans’ life is turned upside down when his children force him to move to the Huis Madeliefie nursing home. It is a great disillusionment when Hans realizes how cramped Huis Madeliefie is and that he now calls a tiny room his home. Adding fuel to the fire is the string of rules and regulations that Hans and his fellow residents must obey.
Together with Lizz Meiring as director and Jak J Brits as stage manager, the text has been transformed into a one-person play that will make young and old dance.
“The story can actually be a bit ridiculous at times,” says Charlie mockingly. “I mean, it’s about these 90-year-old old men who have the strangest adventures, but we decided to play in it. When the situation becomes outrageous, we move with the wave.”
Charlie moves effortlessly between characters and puts a particular strain on Hans’s fellow residents of Huis Madeliefie – something he manages with a change of tone and mannerisms.
“The young team enjoy these different characters on a simple level, while older audience members appreciate the language. We decided to keep uncle Hans’ use of Afrikaans.
“Other people are experiencing again with Hans the thing about children who are overseas. Their grandchildren may also not be brought up as South Africans, but as Britons or Americans. I can think that it gives the older guard a voice about what they themselves experience.”
Mastering Hans’ character was not that easy, admits Charlie. “It was quite a challenge because I only turn 40 in June itself. I’m actually still much too young, but I did my research and preparation thoroughly, as befits any actor.”
As to what exactly these challenges entailed, Charlie says, it was about the physical interpretation. “I see what it is to get into the body of an older character. I play in a contraction all the time, because I have to experience the weight of age.”
The popularity of the Hans comedy series could possibly be a bit overwhelming, but Charlie didn’t let it affect him.
“I know it’s a best-selling series and listeners raved about Tobie’s reading, but Rudie loves the piece and it’s a big plus for me that the author is satisfied.”
Hans gives Herklaas horns, the second book in the series, is already in the process of being adapted for the stage. This piece will debut later this year at the Innibos Arts Festival. Hans crosses the Rubicon in Hans gives Herklaas horns is staged by Leftfoot Theater Productions.
Here is a complete list of the Hans crosses the Rubicon-shows coming up soon:
- 3 April at 13:30 and 4 April at 17:30 at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK), Oudtshoorn. Get your tickets Webtickets.
- 13 April at 08:30 at the Oppiwater Arts Festival, MSC Orchestra. Get your tickets LTickets.
- 15 April at 18:00 and 16 April at 12:00 at Die Koelkamers Teater, Paternoster. Get your tickets Die Koelkamers’ website.
- 19 to 22 April at 20:30 and 23 April at 14:00 at Die Boer, Durbanville. Get your tickets Die Boer’s website.
- April 24 at 7.30pm and April 25 at 7.30pm at The Drama Factory, Somerset West. Get your tickets The Drama Factory ‘s website.
- April 30 at 12:00 and 15:00 at the Hermanus Auditorium. Get your tickets Computicket.
- 3 May at 12:00 and 19:00 at the Jeffreys Bay NG Church. Tickets are available at JBay Academy Equinox. Send an email to [email protected] to learn more.
- 4 May at KREATIEF Burgersdorp. Visit KREATIEF’s Facebook page for more details.
Please note: Ticket prices and times of shows are subject to change.
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