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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CHRONICLES OF A CAR GUARD (article first published : 2007-07-7)

Played out on a stark stage at the Scout Hall on the fringe of the 2007 National Arts Festival, Lisa Bobbert’s new one-woman play offers great potential and much food for thought.

Delphine (Lisa – dressed in crisp khaki shirt and trousers) hastens to tell you that she’s not a beggar. She’s also clean – and she’s not referring to personal hygiene but to the fact that she doesn’t smoke, drink or take drugs. Okay, she has “a coupla sugar problems so she loses it a bit occasionally” but otherwise, she’s very together. She takes her job as a car guard seriously and the play is presented under the guise of a conference at which Delphine has been asked to speak.

She’s a bit nervous at the start and has only made a few notes to which she seldom refers. She instructs us on aspects of car guard duty that may have escaped us. Touching on the verbal abuse often directed at her colleagues, she explains that she got used to this kind of thing at an early age as her father wasn’t exactly politeness itself.

She talks of her two daughters – from two different fathers - of whom she is very proud and we catch a glimpse of her reticence to embarrass her Nicola one evening when the party she was with drove into the parking lot Delphine was guarding. She just winked at her daughter and informed the unsuspecting other members of the group that she’d take special care of their vehicle.

She’s now discovered that she has cancer and for the first time, she’s fighting back. No longer “seeing from behind the wrong eyes”, she’s getting her life in order, making sure that what little assets she has will be properly distributed and proudly boasts that she will have an impressive Zulu funeral in the Drakensberg where she will be buried, courtesy of her friend Mrs Khumalo.

She sings – without too much performance embellishment – songs like a send-up of Rhinestone Cowboy (Rhinestone Carguard), Teach Your Children Well; I’ve Never Been to Me, Wonderful World and Hey, Lady.

Now that the play has had its first airing and been extremely well-received by audiences, I believe that Lisa would do well to explore the process further, add in a few more props and tidy up a few of the illogical aspects.

There are some beautiful and quite heartrending moments in this piece of theatre. In the end it’s all about sincerity … and survival. – Caroline Smart




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