The treasure trove of Herman Charles Bosman is being mined again. This time, his teaching months in Groot Marico are the subject of the play, A Teacher in the Bushveld.
THE teaching years of acclaimed writer and journalist Herman Charles Bosman are explored on stage in the play A Teacher in The Bushveld, currently at the Market Theatre.
Playing the drunken manPlaying the drunken manA one-man show, it is performed by David Butler, who is well-known to television audiences, having appeared in series such as Generations, Shado’s, Snitch and Binnelanders. It is directed by the award-winning director and actor Nicky Rebelo.
The show premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, in 2009. Rebelo says it is an inspiration of how Bosman gathered the material he used for his short stories during his six months as a teacher in Groot Marico.
“It is a highly entertaining, humorous play. Those who have never read his writings will learn why he was regarded as one of the country’s best writers. Also, for high school students it will be helpful as it will give them a better understanding of Bosman.”
Bosman’s short stories and poetry are in the high school literature syllabus.
In A Teacher in The Bushveld, Butler immerses himself in the various characters that he portrays. He is superb in his portrayal of a drunken old man in a bar, for example, and keeps his audience in stitches for the entire show.
The story begins in the mid-1920s, when Bosman is sent to the Groot Marico Bushveld to teach. He has just completed his three-year teaching diploma at Wits University. Although he only spent six months in the bushveld, it was time of wonder and excitement.
David Butler plays various characters in the playDavid Butler: entertaining in the play The Teacher in the BushveldA member of the audience on the opening night of the play on 11 May, said it was “hilarious”. “I liked everything about it, the way it was structured and the way each and every detail was illustrated,” said Lusanda Dlepu, who came from Pretoria to see the play.
A Teacher in the Bushveld is presented by Rebelo and Butler, the same team that created A Touch of Madness. The latter explored the life of Bosman, the creative genius, during his Johannesburg years. It, too, was staged at the Market Theatre in 2008, after touring theatres across the country.
Bosman was born in Kuils River in Western Cape in 1905, but grew up in Johannesburg, where he attended school and university.
After qualifying as a teacher at Wits, he was appointed to a teaching post in Groot Marico. But he was only there for six months. On a trip back to Joburg during the school holidays, Bosman shot dead his half-brother; he was sentenced to death by hanging.
However, his sentence was later commuted to 10 years’ hard labour; he was released on parole after four years. On release, he gave his life over completely to his art, writing poetry, short stories, novels and stage plays. Although he spent less than a year in the small North Western town, most of his short stories are set there.
A Teacher in The Bushveld provides almost an hour of entertainment and laughter that anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity and race, can enjoy. It opened at the Laager Theatre on 10 May and ends its run on 12 June. Tickets are available at Computicket and at the box office. On Tuesdays, they are R66 and from Wednesdays to Sundays they cost R95.
From Tuesdays to Saturdays show time is 8.15pm and on Sundays it is 3.15pm.
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