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‘We Laugh Through Our Pain’- Jonathan Sasha On His Debut Play- Die Stoep

Using stories and characters within the Coloured and Baster communities, Jonathan Sasha will make his theatrical debut with Die Stoep, an Afrikaans play dealing with life, love and loss as well as alcohol abuse as a mental illness.

The title, when directly translated to English means ‘the porch’, a is a prominent feature within the Coloured and Baster communities for telling stories and sharing memories. In this play, it will be used as a focal point to deliver the piece with its vibrant characters and flavourful Afrikaans.

In an interview with Namib Insider, Sasha talks about the importance of the play, the characters and the entire production of Die Stoep.

Novice playwright and director of Die Stoep, Jonathan Sasha (Images: AM Photography)

Die Stoep primarily focuses on loss, love and life. Why is this an important focus for you, as the writer of this work?

I have experienced all three and sometimes it’s not always easy to deal with them in the hood. In the Coloured community, we laugh through our pain. Comedy is our therapy and I wanted to use that element to bring these themes to life so that the actors and the audience can resonate with it on a deeper level.

Why was it important for you to tell this story in Afrikaans?

Afrikaans is a language very near to my heart. The Coloured community was shunned for speaking ‘Kombuis Dutch’ and today it is one of the most flavourful and vibrant languages out there. I think to make a Coloured story authentic, the real, rou (raw) &  onbeskof (explicit) Afrikaans needs to be used. We can’t come sugar coat things. The actors are very comfortable with the language and it adds a genuine feel to the storytelling.

The majority of your cast consists of first-time actors. Was this a deliberate casting decision?

I got amazing auditions and unfortunately, I could not cast every one in the play. There were some setbacks during casting as some people dropped out due to various reasons – but I think it all worked out in the end. The first-time actors are amazing, they really understand the play and execute their roles impeccably. I think it is important that we see new faces in the industry and diversify a little bit more.

Jonathan Sasha with the female cast of Die Stoep.

What are some of the production elements you are most excited for the audience to see?

The original music by cast member and musical director Vernon Sawyers is one of the most amazing elements and will have the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. The set is something everyone can resonate with; it is a typical Coloured home complete with the broken down car.

How is the rehearsal process so far?

The rehearsal process is going extremely well, the actors really understand the story and the characters and they know what is expected of them and how to deliver them.

I see there is an original music element in the play.

Yes. The music adds ambience, emotion and a sincere aspect to the play. You have to hear to know what I’m talking about.

Who should come to see this play?

Although this is a play written from a Coloured perspective and telling a Coloured story, these topics are found in every single household in the country. I really want the Coloured and Basters to come and support, but I want all different tribes to come to watch and open themselves up to learning about often-sidelined people.

Jonathan Sasha with the male cast of Die Stoep.

Meet The Cast

  • Rachardt Mostert is taking on the lead male role of ‘Jantjie’. Mostert is a mathematics teacher in Rehoboth and this is his first time auditioning and acting on the stage.
  • Bianca Heyns is the female lead, ‘Sara’. Heyns is no stranger to the stage as she’s been in The Nuthouse and the Namibian adaptation of District 6 as well as recently being in #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm.
  • Sixteen-year-old Ethan Januarie is playing ‘Boetitjie’. Januarie is a student at Windhoek High School and has taken part in various cultural activities such as drama, choir and modelling.
  • Rodelio Lewis is playing ‘Koba’. Lewis is also one of the more experienced cast members and has been in productions such as Lammie Beukes, Prime Colours, Illusions of Grandeur, and The Encounter.
  • Chantal Magano Kambrude will be playing ‘Lucille’. Kambrude has been seen on the Spoken Word stage previously and is currently a Fashion Design student at the College of the Arts.
  • Petrus Johannes Majiedt is making his theatre debut with ‘Duminee Peters’. Majiedt is an Afrikaans teacher at Centaurus High School and is a law student.
  • Jan-Dre van Vuuren will be portraying ‘Ouderling Tina’ in the play. Van Vuuren is a paramedic by day.
  • Vernon Sawyers is the musical director and is taking on the role of ‘Die Stem’. Sawyers previously composed music for A Thousand Wishes and wrote two songs for that play. He’s an English teacher by profession currently at Windhoek High School. He teaches music at the Youth Orchestras Of Namibia (YONA) and is a member of the National Symphony Orchestra Of Namibia (NNSO).

Sasha is mentored in this production by Tanya Terblanche and the Stage Manager is Elzaan de Wee. Produced under the National Theatre of Namibia’s Theatre Zone Project, Die Stoep is on stage at the Theatre’s Backstage from the 31 October to 2 November 2019. General tickets are N$80 and Student/Senior Citizen tickets are N$50, available at Computicket outlets nationwide.

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