Preview: Groundswell looks at post-apartheid society in psychological thriller

Last week we were invited to the San Jose Repertory Theatre to check in on rehearsals and meet the cast and director of their new production and West Coast premiere, Groundswell. It promises to be a politically charged story that explores “greed, desperation and entitlement” in a post-apartheid South African coastal town.

As we were reviewing the footage of the interview a few things jumped out at me.

The cast is just three actors, all men. From what I can recall, this is the smallest in some time for the Rep. The director, Kristen Brandt, has a rambunctious, and highly spirited group to work with here. And my read is that the chemistry is excellent.

They did well to pair strong, veteran actor Peter Van Norden with energetic, wannabe stand-up comedian, Dwight Huntsman and tough-and-tumble, powerful Scott Coopwood. The trio should make for a nice mix on stage.

And despite the notion that apartheid has been dead for 15 years, the actor’s extensive research is proving otherwise, according to Brandt, “the ripples of apartheid still reverberate throughout this play.”

Coopwood, who plays a diamond diver, added “even though we are 15 years removed from it, the reality is not much has changed… in some ways it may be even worse.” He hopes audiences will even see a mirror of sorts that could reveal similar issues and challenges here at home in the US.

The topic appears to be hot, or as I like to say in the Web 2.0 space: “it’s trending!”

A documentary called “The Last of the Dimaond Divers” is currently in production, and one of the top books in South Africa, “Laying Ghosts to Rest,” examines why South Africa is failing to fill its place in Africa and the world.

Van Norden plays a wealthy white South African businessman who must deal with affirmative action, “this character is trying to deal with his resentment… he has been unjustly treated.”

Look for the interview here soon. I think you’ll enjoy it!

West Coast Premiere
San Jose Repertory Theatre
by South African Playwright Ian Bruce
Directed by Kristen Brandt
Starring Peter Van Norder,Scoot Coopwood, Dwight Huntsman
Oct 10 to  Nov 8, 2009

On the Web: San Jose Repertory Theatre

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