Theatre Interview: Albert Pretorius – Tien Duisend Ton, Or Letting Excitement Win

January 30, 2023

 

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

Translated into Afrikaans and directed by Nico Scheepers, Tien Duisend Ton brings together two of South Africa’s foremost talents in Albert Pretorius and Cintaine Schutte, who star as a couple seriously considering  procreation in the face of imminent extinction. Pretorius stars as the unnamed male character, simply referred to as ‘Man’.

 

Live performance: the thrill versus the nerves – where are you on that curve as a new show starts? How do you find a balance during rehearsals or other preparation?

I actually had this discussion with someone a few days ago. He had to pitch things every day in boardrooms and the nerves and anxiety was something he couldn’t fathom about the acting profession. Why make a living from being anxious all the time? And I told him the difference is this: yes, there are nerves, but the excitement always trumps that. The nerves are gone by the second page of dialogue. Brand new shows always carry more nerves because you have no idea if what you are doing is going to work or not, but excitement always wins.

 

In a best-case scenario, what are you looking for in a role? What is the main basis for that decision – the script, the people involved, the challenge to your skills, the impact (positive or negative) it might have on your life in general, or perhaps something else?

All of the above. I think it all starts with a good script. That is the foundation. Tied with that is the company of people. If people don’t get along, the whole process suffers. And then it has to be something I am interested in. If I am not excited about the project, it won’t serve anyone. Especially when it comes to theatre.

 

Acting is often a vocation, a thing you can’t not do. How true is that for you now? Has it changed over the years – for practical, perhaps banal reasons? And how do you, or would you like to, keep your calling front and centre in your life?

It’s definitely a vocation for me. I do love it. But it is also a very tough industry. Sometimes you have to do an advert or something that your heart and soul hate but your landlord loves. I have been very lucky that I am able to make a career out of my calling, but yes, the passion has shifted and moved a bit. It is all still there – I just have a better understanding of which channels to pour it into and when.

 

What are the toughest expectations to deliver on – all the way from the first audition to the end of the run?

I don’t think too much about expectations. it is unnecessary pressure. I try my best from the first audition to the final day.

 

Tell us about your current production, and what makes your character interesting to play? 

Tien Duisend Ton at The Market Theatre is translated from Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs. I play one half of a couple that is considering the possibility of bringing a baby into a world set for almost certain doom. They worry about the impact a child has on nature – is it a responsible decision, or an ethical one? It all sounds heavy but at the end of the day it is also super funny and really fun to perform. We are in the round with no props and no set, and you just watch this couple go back and forth and have conversations most of us have had in our lives for 90 minutes. I think it is relatable and a lot of fun.
Pic: Nardus Engelbrecht

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