“…you can never judge your character, [the character you are playing] You can only understand and represent your charcter…”

Marcel van Heerden has born talent. Praise enough.  But it must have been a heady, giddy feeling to be spotted by the country’s foremost stage director, to be plucked out from your first professional stage role, and sent into a new wilderness of possibilities. This was how Marcel made his sudden leap onto centre stage.

He comes from an acting background, his mother a prominent figure in amateur theatre in Stellenbosch. He studied at UCT, and from there he went straight to The Space Theatre in Cape Town and into the dance epic Gilgamesh directed by Tessa Marwick. It was here that Barney Simon recognised his potential and put him on the first a train to Johannesburg to the much talked of Market Theatre.

It was a time when Simon was running at full throttle. He and Mannie Manim had established the Market Theatre which was sending a seismic rumble through South African theatre. These were the best of times and Marcel had the benefit of and held the attention of Barney Simon.

Despite the restrictions of censorship, the shadow of Apartheid’s Big Brother darkening all that was creative, there was a generation of creatives that was flourishing. Theatre, film makers, musicians, cabaret artists mushroomed in the dark.

It was an exciting time. Marcel had his own band, Mud Ensemble, which experimented with song, verse, and poetry at Carfax, a place to be seen in. Experimentation was key. Such were the times.

Marcel had the best of it all in theatre, music, film and television.