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

JAKE'S REVOLUTION (article first published : 2008-07-17)

Coming full circle to where you once where and where you will surely be in the future, only if you reflect on your life choose to experience certain situations again is the message of Jake’s Revolution written and performed by Cliff Bryan which appeared on the 2008 National Arts Festival’s Fringe programme.

This is a one-man show about a farm boy called Stofel Jacobus van der Merwe aka Jake Harrison and the story about his achieving his dream of becoming a musician and actor. He relates the story as to how he left a very Afrikaans farm he lived on with his typical Afrikaans parents. His parents scoff at him for wanting to be a performer but his ‘ouma’ gives him money and tells him “kan gee jou droom lewe”. So he leaves for ‘the city by the sea’.

The journey takes us to where he meets a pot-smoking friend, Max; he slowly starts losing his Afrikaans accent and gets a job as a barman at Johnny’s bar. The manager at Johnny’s bar asks him to do a gig, his first gig. He slowly grows in confidence as a musician and decides to go for a casting during which he breaks into a monologue about the difference between a casting and an audition. After going for a casting, he gets a part where he thinks he is playing the role of a giant joint, but it actually turns out to be a giant tampon.

After this experience, he gives up acting and decides to focus on his music and, becoming a muso, he begins writing his own songs. Along the line, he starts taking drugs and gets hooked. After falling in love with Katie, he gets a gig to open for a band called ‘South of the Sun’ on their nationwide tour of South Africa.

On the tour he gets a call saying Max has died and he returns to the ‘city by the sea’. His girlfriend, Katie, is there to help him get through the death, but she never stays over. Eventually she tells him that she has an eight year old son and Jake is devastated. She leaves him just before the biggest gig of his life and he goes on to perform an awful show as he is traumatized by the break-up.To find himself again he starts writing his own songs and finally gets his songs played on East Coast Radio. As a musician –and as the character - he played the guitar and sang beautifully, with a rich textured voice. However the script was sparse at times, links between scenes were slow and the performer lacked energy. There were moments, however, where a spark of energy in his story-telling made the tale he narrated real; and it was easy to picture the story he laid out. He is certainly a good singer and musician on guitar, but his acting technique needs further development for a piece such as this to work. - Shika Budhoo




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