Lisa Lottering and Lauren Klaasen
Renowned theatre-maker Marthinus Basson, director of Die Gangsters, recreated the 1993 production of this play in honour of Dr Benoni Dahaeck’s life-time contribution to the Breughel theatre in Cloetesville.
Dahaeck (93), who first wrote the original script, had a dream that a community like Cloetesville could be uplifted through the arts. To this end, he contributed to the establishment of the Breughel theatre in 1989 and the Gangsters production was first debuted there in 1993. Benoni firmly believed that some issues could be addressed directly through theatre if it was made accessible to the community.
Die Gangsters centres on four authoritative figures within the Rainbow nation, while honouring the life and loss of fellow gangster, Joe Jesus, who has been murdered.
“It wasn’t difficult to maintain the same spirit of the play because I respect him [Dahaeck],” said Basson. “I wanted the principles of what he believed in to be present on stage.”
Although the original script was not changed, the production itself was changed. It also created an opportunity for the next generation of actors to gain exposure from the festival.
There have been many debates on whether or not the original gangsters should be casted, but Basson decided to involve students from Stellenbosch University (SU) instead.
“I think it’s important for them to work with actors like Stian Bam and June van Merch,” said Basson.
New cast member, Dean Smith, said everyone brought their own energy to the team.
“Working with professionals, as a young, upcoming artist, I can ‘steal’ a lot from them,” he said. “By learning from others you develop your own method.”