It turns out to be no secret that a Hout Bay star is slowly on the rise.
Producer and actress, Erika Marais, was nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of Eleanor Kasrils in the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award-winning and multiple-nominated production, The Unlikely Secret Agent, which graced the Baxter Theatre stage last month.
“We took a gamble last year to stage the play during the height of Covid, and despite numerous setbacks, we have managed to overcome so many challenges and I am truly grateful to my incredible cast and crew, as well as to Ronnie Kasrils and his wife Amina Frense for their continued support,” she said.
The Hout Bay actress and producer started her journey by studying drama at the University of Pretoria, where she originally focused on educational theatre and puppeteering programme. She targeted disadvantaged community in the Mamelodi townships at the time.
She also served many years as a drama teacher at the Amoyo Performing Arts in Imizamo Yethu before going on to to star in various short films during the span of her career, including Karnavaltyd, which formed part of KykNet’s Ons Stories series. In the theatre, she featured in shows such as The Wisdom of Eve, Inspector Drake and the Black Widow, The House Guest, Sunshine Boys and The Battetts of Wimpole Street.
Ms Marais performed her first one-woman show, Jam Every Other Day, which she wrote with Celia Musikanth, from the memoir of Emmaleen Kriel. The show toured to the National Arts Festival and Hermanus FynArts in 2018.
She also co-wrote and performed in Your Perfect Life, which went on to win the Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in 2019 and again in 2021.
In The Unlikely Secret Agent, Ms Marais played the role of Eleanor Kasrils, landing her the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nomination for Best Actress. As the founder of Unlikely Productions, she also produced the play, which was nominated for a total of eight awards, with Paul du Toit winning Best Director. Other Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nominations for the production include Daniel Galloway for Lighting Design and Jahn Beukes for Sound Design.
Based on Ronnie Kasrils’ Alan Paton Award-winning novel, the production explored the brave journey of Eleanor, Kasrils’ wife and a clandestine agent for the Underground ANC, as she navigates her escape from Apartheid South Africa.
The production had an extended run at the Baxter Theatre Centre and at Woordfees, nominated for a further four awards, which will be announced later this month.
“The story of this remarkable woman inspires and moves our audiences wherever we have performed this production,” Ms Marais said.
“We are honoured to continue the journey of sharing her story.”
They are hoping to tour the production nationally next year, with plans to visit London and Scotland also on the cards.
“Hopefully these further accolades will open even more doors for us in the future, as it is our wish to share Eleanor’s story of hope and bravery with audiences far and wide, both locally and abroad,” Ms Marais said.