Nico praises city’s theatre scene

Tamboerskloof resident, Nico Scheepers, is the director of the Hemelruim which is showing at the Fugard Theatre.

There is no better place in the country for theatre-lovers to be than Cape Town. That is the view of Nico Scheepers, director and producer of Hemelruim, currently showing at the Fugard Theatre until
Saturday May 13.

Hemelruim is the Afrikaans translation of Broadway and West End runaway hit Constellations by Nick Payne, which won the 2012 Evening Standard Award for best new production.

Tamboerskloof resident Nico Scheepers, who has just returned from the The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK)where his projects included writing and directing Moedertaal, said Constellations had been translated into about 40 languages because it was such a universal story.

Mr Scheepers translated the entire play into Afrikaans and adapted it to a Cape Town setting.

His interpretation of the play features Paul du Toit and Tinarie van Wyk Loots, and since its debut in 2015, has been staged at several Afrikaans theatre festivals.

As well as directing the production, he also composed the music and did the stage design. He also re-translated the play back into subtitles. “It feels like you are watching a foreign language film,” said Mr Scheepers.

“If you take the format of the play out of it, it is a simple boy meets girl story.

“But the moment you apply the scientific logic that the play applies to love, it becomes something completely magical. Every choice splits into a different universe and parallel souls who navigate this universe. They navigate the greatest journey, which is love.

“It is a beautiful production and has probably two of the best working actors in the country. I’m so glad we are able to do it in Cape Town now. The two of them are like little suns orbiting each other on stage. It is really special and a privilege to work with them.”

Mr Scheepers has been a director for the past three years and says he is really enjoying the work.

“I live in Cape Town and I work in Cape Town but all my work gets sent away to other places. It’s really nice to be in a proper theatre and not part of a festival set up. I live a few blocks from here so it is really nice to come to work like a normal person for three works.”

Mr Scheepers, who is originally from Limpopo, studied drama at Tuks – the University of Pretoria. He also worked as a Grade 9 English teacher in Limpopo before moving to Cape Town.

Reflecting on his work in theatre, he said it was an exciting period to be involved in the industry in the city. “You can’t compare it to the rest of the country. The only other theatres that produce new work are in Gauteng.

“Cape Town is really the only place where you can make intimate theatre and make a living from it. You can make a story about two people on stage and people will come and watch it. The theatres are also a lot more open to new theatre-makers, which is fantastic. The only thing I wish Cape Town would get over like a bad flu is the tendency to only book tickets in the last week of a run.”

He, however, praised Cape Town audiences for their enthusiasm and encouraged them to come and see the play.

“It’s a special production that was made with love and care. It’s not just another show, it is a piece we are really proud of. To have the Fugard come to you and say we are proud to have this is special.”

Ticket prices range from R130 to R165 and can be booked through Computicket. Bookings can also be made at the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554.