(Kedibone Modise’s article appeared in the Johannesburg Cape Times, 2/2; Photos: Sandra Prinsloo stars in ‘Kamphoer die verhaal van Susan Nell’. Pictures: Key Eye Poetry Photography.)
Lara Foot’s latest hard-hitting drama, “Kamphoer – die verhaal van Susan Nell”, is a hit with theatre lovers in and around Joburg.
Currently on at The Market Theatre, “Kamphoer – die verhaal van Susan Nell” is an intense and gripping production, which explores the injustices suffered by women from sexual assault to a violation of their human rights.
The award-winning production stars South African theatre legend Sandra Prinsloo, who brings to life the incredible story of Susan Nell.
Prinsloo puts the spotlight on an unspeakable ordeal Susan endured during the Anglo-Boer War in the Winburg concentration camp.
Following her father’s death during the war, Susan and her mother end up in the concentration camp where she is brutally raped and left for dead by two British officers.
A few years after the terrible ordeal, Susan qualifies as a psychiatric nurse in Europe.
Later, Susan travels to England during World War 1, where she serves at a military hospital for soldiers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress-related illnesses.
It is at the military hospital where Susan encounters one of her rapists and is flooded with memories of the trauma and humiliation of the rape incident.
Is Susan capable of revenge or will she forgive?
That is the question that is answered in this play, which is based on Francois Smit’s debut and best-selling novel as well as Nico Moolman’s non-fiction publication, “The Boer Whore”.
It has been adapted for the stage by Cecilia du Toit, in collaboration with theatres giants Prinsloo and Foot.
In a recent chat with Prinsloo, she said: “ Every character is different and one has to delve deeply into your own psyche to find them.
“Susan Nell, the woman I portray, has probably been one of the most difficult roles I have had to do but also one of my best-loved roles.
“Grappling with a new role is always challenging but working with Lara on adapting the novel into a play was wonderful.
“I learnt so much. But the best part was the rehearsal period, exploring and finding all the nuances of this brave woman.
“There was also a lot of laughter during and after rehearsals and for that, I have to thank two brilliant women: Lara and our stage manager, Jeanne Steenkamp. Working doesn’t get much better than this!”
The themes in the production are aligned with current societal challenges and struggles.
“The play is set in an historic time but that is still so relevant today.
“A play that illustrates how certain things have not changed for women.
“It is a riveting story based on a true-life event and a real person. It is a deeply moving story of a woman’s courage,” Prinsloo revealed.