Renos Spanoudes has in his repertoire a one-man piece which is of perennial interest to South Africans – a work about Dimitri Tsafendas, the Greek who assassinated Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, the then Prime Minister, the “architect of Apartheid”, on 6 September 1966. This particular piece of history is the first public event which I can remember in any detail and with absolute clarity, so the basic plot has a lot of personal meaning to me.
This is a beautiful piece of biographical theatre, poignant and stirring. From time to time one picks up that it is written (by Anton Robert Krueger) with politically correct hindsight, its only minor weakness. The rest of it is pure gold, and one cannot but empathise with this lonely man, an intelligent underachiever who just wants a cup of tea the warders haven’t pee’d in.
I have watched this work several times over the years and it has matured, together with with its performer. It is a gentle, compassionate piece of theatre, and portrays a character almost bewildered by his circumstances. The work has, in the past, been directed by Jose Domingos and Lynne Maree, but this production has no director.
The play’s original title was Living in Strange Lands: The Testimony of Dimitri Tsafendas. It has been presented as Tsafendas and now as Verwoerd’s Assassin.
Renos Spanoudes is appearing in the inaugural So Solo Festival at Wits University, curated by Gita Pather. Tickets are reasonably priced at between R20 and R50 depending on status and performance time.