Dean Balie breathes new life into Adam Small’s words


The theater production The Poet, who is he? made a clean sweep at the Fiestas this year by walking away with five awards including the best overall production, music-driven production, newly created Afrikaans text, best directing and best theater design. This award-winning production was compiled by Frieda van den Heever and Dean Balie and produced by De Klerk Oelofse. Dean, also known for his role in David Kramer’s Kat and the Kings , was praised for his masterful play as an interpreter and storyteller in The Poet, Who’s He? spoke to Dean to find out more about his love for theater, his role in Die poet, wie’s hy? and “Uncle Adam”‘s works. The poet, who is he? is an iconic journey through the work and life of the poet Adam Small.

By combining Small’s works with unconventional sounds, new life is breathed into this legend’s words.

Dean stands in gratitude for the praise the production is currently receiving. “It’s always great to get recognition for your work,” he says. “We as a team are terribly proud and are humbly employed by the performing arts. The production required the passion and discipline of everyone involved. I was blessed to have a creative team that feels just as strongly about Uncle Adam’s message as I do. The awards are a reflection of the work we have done and will continue to do. I am grateful for the honor and it is motivation to create even better jobs. ”

According to Dean, the idea for the production stemmed from a Christmas program by RSG in which the late Margot Luyt involved him in 2012. “After the session, she made me think that a production of Adam Small’s verses and my musical approach could work well. I am eternally grateful to her. ”

Dean’s own background of music includes Namaqualand sounds as well as the traditional ‘khoi’ sounds. “I wanted to merge the two worlds to sit under the verse and convey the meaning better.

It was important to me that the sound never bothers, but always contributes. From day one, we decided that it was Small’s words that would be the star of our show .

In the development phase, we had jam sessions and everyone knew we were now walking on sacred ground and that we were doing work that had never been so suggested before. Every hit on a can, or blowing a whistle was just as important as the tightening of a guitar. ”

Balie believes that the impact of Small’s work lies in the fact that he did not necessarily write as people read, but rather as they speak and feel. For him there are three Adams: “Adam the religious young writer with the struggle of our social circumstances, as well as his struggle with his God : ‘The Lord shook gas and the dice fell wrong for us’ [The Lord shook gas]. Adam the Cape African ‘ rebel’ who decided early on that he would use the pen as a form of activism : the old man who looks back on his work and feels satisfied:’… Fulfill that little brown child’s will, bound him in Afrikaans forever’ [Trap der bruin jeugd].

“He was definitely ahead of his time and his biggest lesson for me is when he says: ‘If there are black and brown and white now, the biggest of these is love for me’ .

I believe this is what we need now. There are many more things that bring us together than we do apart. This is what makes him an icon not only in Afrikaans poetry, but an icon of South Africa and its children. ”

During the production, more than 30 unconventional musical instruments were used, many of which were self-made. For Dean, it was a dream to share a stage with artists such as the Khoisan Gypsy Band, Frazer Barry, Garth Erasmus, Leon Ecroignard, Collin ‘The Bushman’ Meyer and Ulric ‘Namasun’ Roberts’. “The Khoisan Gypsy Band are masters in their field. The band was like a Greek choir that always carries the meaning of the verse very sensitively and with respect.

With the limitations of Covid-19, it is uncertain to say what the future of production holds. The production was filmed last November with Christiaan Olwagen directing. Furthermore, they also plan to release a CD of the soundtrack soon. Dean thinks his only wish is that they will have a full playing field. “The biggest halls and small communities must see and experience it! The message includes us all and if we can make each other strong and make us laugh and cry then we can heal each other too, ”he says.

For Dean, it’s important for people to understand that The Poet, who is he? is not protest theater, but rather “cure-and-hope theater”.

“This is a church for the audience member who is a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Rastafarian or Atheist. It honors the work of Adam Small, narrated by people who know the message is greater than themselves. Which does not forget our history or politics, but embraces it as part of the ‘dishcloth’ of our social welfare. May this show long after me still live in the minds of our people. May we never forget when Uncle Adam writes : ‘… and after the atomic bombs there will be a new world with two kinds of people. The believers and the unbelievers are one kind, the few others will love and move with the flying stars, and trees and distance, wind and fruit and light and with the other sympathize because love allows for many things. ‘ He is talking about all of us here! ”

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