Nicky Rebelo is an actor, director and writer who has spent much of his career thinking and writing about Herman Charles Bosman, the mercurial writer who’s work still resonates in a South Africa that is vastly different to the one he lived in. Not only is Bosman one of South Africa’s greatest short-story writers, but his life story is the stuff of legend. Rebelo’s latest work, starring the astonishing David Butler, looks at the short time that Bosman spent teaching in the Groot Marico and the profound effect it had on his life.
Baxter Blog: Why Bosman? Why now? Is it still relevant for South Africans?
Nicky Rebelo: Bosman was one of the first South African writers, writing in English to stress the importance of writing from a South African point of view. He saw himself first as a South African and an African and did not concern himself with the narrow cultural distinctions, which some people love to hang on to. Bosman’s writing is appreciated today because it is very good writing. It is true art. True art is relevant for all ages. Just like Shakespeare or Mozart or Van Gogh will never be irrelevant, so too does Bosman’s writing remain relevant.
BB: Is this the first production to ever focus just on this period of his life?
NR: Yes it is.
BB: How did you come up with this production and how long has it been germinating?
NR: This production was a natural follow up to my first Bosman play A Touch of Madness, which was performed all over the country from 1998 to 2008. David sourced the material in order to do a performance at the unveiling of the replica school building at which Bosman taught in 1926 in Groot Marico, I then adapted and shaped the material to create the show A Teacher in the Bushveld, which premiered at the 2009 Grahamstown Festival.
BB: What do you think Bosman would have made of the 21st Century media environment?
NR: I’ve no idea. All I’m certain of is that whaterever he would have said about it would have been highly original and extremely witty.
BB: What’s the key to a successful one=man show?
NR: Holding the audience spellbound, which requires an excellent text, brilliant direction from a director who understands rythm, tone, music and pace and a very good actor.
BB: Where to from here? A movie? A musical?
NR: I am at present working on the film script based on Bosman’s life and work.