Within theatre you frequently find good pairings – director/actor relationships that work. In South Africa we have had Athol Fugard and Yvonne Bryceland, Francois Swart and Sandra Prinsloo, Marthinus Bason and Antoinette Kellerman and Aletta and Barney Simon.
Aletta Bezuidenhout was most often Barney Simon’s go-to actress. He understood her and she him. By looking back on this curious synergy, Aletta gives us insights into Barney Simon, a legendary director who had an enormous impact on South African theatre, his unrelenting energy, his unique directing techniques. Whether loved, feared, or criticised, these do not detract from his legacy. Aletta offers a close-up view. A view too of the ‘making of the Market’ of which she was part.
Aletta is pensive and focused, intelligent, and articulate, giving the viewer a clear look into the world of an actor: the insecurities, the challenges, the struggle of taking on the mantle of any one of the characters Aletta took on and excelled with: Galactia, in Scenes from an Execution, Abbie in Begeerte, Masha in Drie Susters Twee, Cleopatra … All big characters in the theatrical world.
Aletta is herself a playwright. From an eccentric Afrikaans family who lived in Kenya at the time of the Mau-Mau Uprising, then to a farm in the Lowveld, she has explored hers and her family’s archetypes and turned them into compelling plays.
She has many stories still to tell, but for now she is proudly a mother of two and a grandmother who just wants to enjoy her grandchildren.
She sees her life’s cycle with so much clarity you can but love her and hope for more to come from her.