The essence of the phrase
“I am woman” is central to the personality and character of Old Woodlands resident Edith Plaatjies who plays the lead female role of Joyce in King Kong The Musical, at The Fugard Theatre, in District Six, until Sunday February 18.
The musical portrays the life of heavyweight boxer Ezekiel Dlamini whose self-appointed ring name was King Kong.
After a meteoric boxing rise, his life degenerates into drunkenness and gang violence.
He is sentenced to 14 years of hard labour for stabbing girlfriend, Joyce, a shebeen queen, who rules the roost.
Edith, 31, plays the role which helped Miriam Makeba to international fame in the original 1959 production.
The strong, feisty, independent and strong character of Joyce is one Edith can relate to.
Edith is a single mom to Eli, 6, goes to gym to keep fit, paints her lips when the occasion calls for it and has a professional acting and singing career, which she loves.
Not wanting to give any of the plot away, Edith said the audience is in for a surprise, which she loves about the character she plays.
“I am a woman first then I’m a mom.
“We forget to take care of ourselves. We need to take care of our hair, outfit and make-up. We have to make the choice to be our best,” she said.
Edith said it was rather easy for her to be Joyce, after seeing shebeen queens in action in her neighbourhood at the “smokkel huise”.
“She is the lady in charge, she reprimands the person trying to wreak havoc, she is a strong authority figure to her customers.”
Coming from the township, Edith said she has to do “what is natural” otherwise the audience would not be entranced and the performance would not be realistic.
“The audience is in for a treat. In the beginning, everyone loves Joyce, she is someone most women could relate to and I just love that she can play the audience like that,” said Edith.
She said her fellow actors are constantly on the prowl for new challenges, “hungry to act and reach their goals, so strong and talented, with beautiful hearts, who do everything they can to draw the audience into their performance”.
Edith herself uses each performance as a stepping stone to build on to her career.
“We are not defined by our circumstances. Yes, we do have violence, everywhere in the world. We either grew up with gangsterism or teenage pregnancies but we rose above it and I have reached my dream,” she said.
Edith’s mother died when she was just 14 years old. She recalled her mother dressing up every Friday evening, which made her feel happy and energised.
She said the positive energy she felt allowed her to pass it on to other people.
“She (her mother) was in hospital but still she pushed me to perform in a Gospel group. She knew performing made me happy and that is what she wanted for me,” she said.
Edith said it takes time to know oneself and to feel whole.
The other female characters also play key roles, who mostly want to be like Joyce but who all have different backgrounds.
Edith’s theatre credits include her debut Blood Brothers, where she was part of the chorus; Orpheus In Africa, where she played the role of Belle Gibbons, with a few lines; and District Six: Kanala, where she did some miming.
Edith has been in the music industry for more than 12 years.
She has also been seen in productions such as Radio Classics directed by David Kramer and Slick Swing and Kaapse Musiek In Kleur, both directed by Alistair Izobell.
She released her debut album Wicked in 2010; studied music at Prompt Music School where she focused on vocals, guitar and drums; and performed as backing vocalist for artists such as Diana Ross, Josh Groban, Jonathan Butler, Percy Sledge, Phil Ferron, Sybil, Judith Sephuma, Wanda Baloyi, PJ Powers, Mynie Grove and Alistair Izobell.
A live nine-piece band, under the direction of Sipumzo Trueman Lucwaba, accompanies the performances of King Kong The Musical, which is staged at 8pm from Tuesday to Saturday, with a matinee at 3pm on Saturdays and on Sundays at 4pm.
Tickets range between R130 and R280. Bookings can be made at Webtickets and through The Fugard Theatre Box office on 021 461 4554.