Renaissance

Comedy | Drama • Running Time: 65 mins
Written and directed by Wessel Pretorius | Performed by Len-Barry Simons, Jazzara Jaslyn and David Viviers | Photography by Mandy Freeman
Warning: Profanity, Blasphemy, Smoking

A South African expat obtains a working visa and becomes a night watchman in the National Gallery in London. He shares his story of growing up gay in a small South African town and ultimately finding himself despondent and disillusioned at life as a freelance actor in a foreign country. As we follow his night patrol, some artworks come to life and start telling us their stories, too. Their stories all have bearing on the life of our protagonist – as their semiotics are filtered through his imagination.

We meet him well into his first year, bored, broke, single and still not much wiser.  We follow him on a night shift as he patrols the gallery.  He tells us his story – an everyman memoir about growing up gay in small town South Africa, discovering his passion for theater, his move to the city, his relationship with his boyfriend and finally the year abroad where he fell in love with a refugee and came to re-evaluate art – spending long hours watching over it.  

The question of art’s purpose and power, it’s private and personal relevance to those who find catharsis and meaning in it, the role of the artist and storyteller and the holiness of beauty all come into play in this ironic but endearing satire of modern man’s relationship to art.

BIOS

Wessel Pretorius
Wessel Pretorius was born in 1986 in Nigel and grew up in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. He obtained his BA drama degree at the University of Pretoria and his honours in acting at Stellenbosch University. In 2010 he represented the Stellenbosch Drama Department in Den Haag doing a six-week workshop with De Appel. He made his professional debut later that year at Aardklop with Korte Mette Met die Versamelde Werke Van William Shakespeare directed by Hugo Theart for TEATERteater. Other highlights include Yasmina Reza’s Art (directed by Marthinus Basson) Christiaan Olwagen’s ‘Politik Trilogie’: Woza Andries?, Vagina Dentata and Ubu and the Secrecy Bill, P.G. du Plessis’ ‘n Seder val in Waterkloof (directed by Albert Maritz), N is vir Neurose (Olwagen), his self-penned solo show Ont-, Boetie Dis Tyd Vir Bid As ’n Seekoeikoei Op Jou Skoot Kom Sit for the Klein Libertas Teater directed by Juanita Swanepoel, David Greig’s Die Monster In Die Gang (translated and directed by Hennie van Greunen), Saartjie Botha’s Balbesit (directed by Jaco Bouwer) and Albee’s Wie’s Bang Vir Virginia Woolf? (directed by Christiaan Olwagen). In 2013 Van Greunen translated Ont- as Undone for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Shakespeare’s Richard III (directed by Lara Bye), Boesman, My Seun (written and directed by Deon Opperman) and Waterpas which he also wrote and was again directed by Olwagen. He has previously written, starred in and directed Die ontelbare 48. Last year he wrote and directed I Love You Sally Field, which had a very successful run at the Alexander Upstairs. Wesse received a Fiesta award nomination for Ontelbare 48 as well as a Fleur de Cap nomination for I Love You Sally Field.

David Viviers 
David is a film and theater actor. In 2014 he graduated with distinction in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town. In May last year, David was awarded the Brett Goldin Bursary to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company for a month in Stratford-upon-Avon. This year, David has been nominated for a Fleur du Cap Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner  as well as a Kanna nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the Afrikaans comedy, Klara Maas se Hart is Gebreek which debuted at the KKNK in April. Career highlights include the Kyknet film Kanarie (directed by Christiaan Olwagen), Klara Maas se Hart is Gebreek(written and directed by Wessel Pretoirus), The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner (directed by Adrian Collins) and the Standard Bank Ovation winner Salt (written and directed by Wynne Bredenkamp). 

Jazzara Jaslyn
Jazzara Jaslyn is a film and theatre actress based in Cape Town. In 2014 she graduated from UCT with a degree in Theatre and Performance. Her recent career highlights include playing Marishka in Tweespalt (KKNK), Olympia in Warner Brother’s A Cinderella Story and Nun in The White Whore and the Bit Player, directed by Chris Weare. Since a young age, Jazzara knew she would pursue acting as her profession, but never without a strong sense of humour. Laughter is important – especially in the age of Trump. At 10 years old she was seriously distressed that she would never be a man – all she wanted to do was join the comic troop of actors in Monty Python. Alas. She now dreams of a life void of waitressing.

Len-Barry Simons
Len-Barry was born in Swellendam in 1993. He discovered his love for entertainment between his grandma's scarves. “My grandpa, with his whisky in one hand and cigarette in the other, applauded me after every dance routine I improvised for them.” He matriculated from Bredasdorp High School and graduated from Stellenbosch University in 2015 with a degree in drama. Now he can say with pride state that he is perusing a career in performance. He is also a certified yoga teacher – and that helped him become truthful again after shooting a commercial. This will be his first professional production.

Mandy Freeman
A journalist by trade, Mandy dabbles in photography on the side. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA in Film and Media Production and has spent the last nine years working in the media industry. She lives with her husband and three cats, who are often subjected to impromptu photoshoots in the garden. She dreams of opening her own photography studio and cat cafe one day.


Press & Reviews

  • Sat 3rd Jun 2017 Weekend Special

    "Wessel Pretorius has tapped into a highly imaginative parallel universe with art reflecting our perceptions of it back to us with a twist of humour, irony and deep pathos."

    Review of "Renaissance" by Megan Furniss




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