Petersen directs award winner

Hout Bay resident, respected actress and director Bo Petersen, will direct Graham Weir’s double Fleur du Cap award-winning Dead Yellow Sands at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio for a limited season from Monday October 31 to Saturday November 26, at 8.15pm, with Saturday matinees at 4pm.

Following its critical acclaim and sold out performances on the main programme of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival earlier this year, the play now transfers to the Baxter.

Petersen has been involved in the performing arts for over 39 years during which she has worked with many theatre luminaries and has performed in wide range of productions which include Barney Simon’s Cincinnatti, Athol Fugard’s Statements after an Arrest under the Immorality Act, which earned her a Fleur du Cap nomination for Best Actress in 2012, and, most recently, Philip Rademeyer’s The Graveyard.

She was fortunate to have Barney Simon as one of her mentors and her interest in developing South African theatre and talent remains a passion. Although she is known primarily as an actor, on stage, television and film, she has ventured, very successfully, into directing – a journey which began some 15 years ago.

Three of Weir’s award-winning works were directed by Petersen and these include his self-penned Tales from a Dark Corner, Letters from Patient Essop, and working with his legendary acapella group Not The Midnight Mass.

Their journey continues with Dead Yellow Sands which started humbly as a read-through in her home in Hout Bay, ending up to with a sold-out run at The Alexander Bar and standing ovations at the National Arts Festival earlier this year.

The play is a return to minimalism: an actor lit with sophisticatedly simple lighting telling the stories he has lived.

The production’s success is a testament to the haunting original South African script and the consummate skills of the veteran production team.

“Graham’s performance in this beautiful play is nothing short of breathtaking,” says Petersen. “This, coupled with the innovative lighting design concept by Guy de Lancey makes for really great theatre and is one of the reasons that it has garnered such success in a short time.”

The sketches for the play were written over the last few months of 2014. Weir explains: “When I completed them I wasn’t sure if they were even pieces that would work on the stage or not. I thought that they might be something one would sit and read.

“I contacted Bo and after reading them, her response was positive and encouraging. She was excited about the theatrical potential of the work.”

Petersen has worked together with Zimbabwean actor/playwright Jonathan Nkala, editing, directing and producing his trilogy of plays Cockroach, which travelled to festivals nationally and internationally.

In 2011 she was nominated as Best New Director for the Fleur du Cap Awards for Blackbird, a project which was produced by her and the cast.

Petersen has established an auxiliary career as a dialogue and drama coach for the film and advertising industry, both nationally and internationally.

Her film and television credits include, among others, The Girl, Safe House, The Game Changer and Tutankhamen.

She was the dialogue coach for seasons 1 and 2 of Black Sails, one of the biggest international television shows to be filmed in South Africa.

Dead Yellow Sands previews on Monday October 31 8.15pm, opens on Tuesday November 1 and runs until Saturday November 26, with matinees on Saturdays at 4pm.

There is an age restriction of 12 years and parental guidance is advised. Tickets cost R110. Booking through Computicket. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962 or sharon.ward@uct.ac.za