The actor Hennie Smit’s dream of attending the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) before his 80th birthday in May for the “last time” has come true thanks to the help of the AfriForum Theater in Pretoria.
Smit, who is known, among other things, for his role as Bertie in In goal and Dêda in Lefra Productions’ My little brother’s sister if orrecently expressed his dream in a post on Facebook to attend this popular art festival, but shared that his social old-age pension does not make it possible.
He currently lives in Bloemfontein and would not have been able to make the long journey to the Karoo by himself due to his age.
“Who knows, maybe there’ll be an angel on my way who says: ‘Get in, you’re going to KKNK together, with or without your Sassa’,” the 79-year-old wrote in a Facebook entry on April 1.
“Angels” from the AfriForum Theater in Pretoria did indeed hear his plea and invited this beloved actor to attend the festival for three days together with Carien Bloem, manager of the AfriForum Theatre, and Estel de Beer, the theater’s content formulator.
The theater covered his travel and accommodation expenses and invited him to watch a few shows with them.
“As a theatre, we strive to support artists, not only on stage, but also with a special request like the one Hennie expressed. It is an absolute privilege for us to assist him in this regard, we know it is a big expense for anyone to go to art festivals,” says Bloem.
She tells that Smit enjoys the festival immensely and is occasionally stopped by festival-goers.
“There are many people who still recognize him and would like to start a conversation with him. This only serves as evidence of the deep footprints he has trodden in the African entertainment industry.”
For Smit, his visit to the KKNK “feels like an old robbery that has been scraped off and given new life.”
“It brings back the best memories. I think back to the days when people like me, Sonia Heroldt and Bles Bridges performed in these same theatres. The environment, the feeling, the people with bare feet and funny hats, the ladies in gentlemen who walks around here. Everything is just fantasy.”
Regarding his decision to share his wishes on Facebook, Smit says that he works according to his heart.
“When I woke up in the morning (of April 1), my heart longed for the people, the arts, the festivals, because that’s me. My whole life has been arts. Then I decided, I’ll just write. Maybe there is someone who cares enough.”
He says that he will never be able to thank the theater enough for their gesture.
“They said come visit, stay, watch and eat with us. How awesome is that? I knew somewhere there was going to be a light.”
Smit says his festival highlights include David Kramer’s new musical, Far in the world Kittyas well as a performance by Coenie de Villiers.
He already has Mixtape of lovewhich is based on Antjie Krog’s collection of the same name, saw and described it as “incredible”.
“It’s nice to see celebrities around me, from actors to directors. There are many that have also not changed at all, such as the duck who walk around here with their hats. Everyone is here for the arts, it’s an incredible environment. We all came together as one soul to support the arts.”
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