The beauty of the Karoo captured in music and storytelling

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UNLESS you hang out at book launches and signings, you seldom get to see your favourite authors in real life. Writing is a solitary occupation, so those who do so, seldom get to meet their fans (apart from book launches and signings).

Then there is me, who, although actually shy, introverted and socially awkward without wine, barrels into my favourite author and babbles about what an admirer I am. Not once, but twice. The second time, which was last Friday, I felt compelled to recount the entire first meeting, which was more than three years ago, to a man who no doubt endures this a lot. Deon Meyer is the best-selling crime author, and a true gentleman. He was knighted by France in 2021 as Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in Stellenbosch with his wife Marianne who is utterly gorgeous, and is passionate about South Africa, Mozart, mountain biking, cooking, photography, golf, and Free State Cheetahs and Springbok rugby.

He’s also great friends with singer-songwriter and pianist Connie de Villiers. The men share a love of the Karoo, and a tjoppie en ‘n doppie, which led to a production called Karoo Suite, which made its debut at the KKNK Arts Festival three years ago. We all know what happened after that, and now we see a welcome return to the stage with Karoo Suite 2: Karoonagte. The production moves to Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino in Joburg after the Cape Town run.

The show comprises Coenie on the piano and vocals, with Deon (we are on first name terms now, I don’t care what anyone says) reading short stories – which he wrote, obviously – and all true, he says. It’s in Afrikaans by the way, and I’m sure that is much appreciated by those whose mother tongue it is, and certainly by this English person who finds the taal to be beautiful. It’s a language perfect for this format of storytelling, both spoken and sung, and should not ever be translated.

Between Coenie and Deon is guitar maestro Mauritz Lotz. I have to use his surname because I didn’t meet him in the foyer after the show. At the back of the stage is a screen which slides through incredible photography of the Karoo, so often thought of a just a desert but it has a myriad of moods and aspects. Many of these have been captured by Deon himself, which will make you think, is there no end to this man’s talent? Additional visuals are provided  by National Geographic photographers Maryna Cotton and Sarel van Staden and footage by NASA, as well as animation by artist Diek Grobler. The astronomy consultant is Professor Matie Hoffman.

As Coenie says, this is a love letter to the Karoo. The combined elements of music, words and images will make you want to go there, to return if it already has a piece of your heart, or for the first time. It is a true representation of this part of our world.

Afterwards, Coenie and Deon come out to meet their adoring public in the foyer, posing happily for photos, and signing books. They are both so darn nice, and it was a pleasure to meet them.

  • What: Karoo Suite 2: Karoonagte
  • When: Until 12 November 2022
  • Where: Pieter Toerien’s Theatre On The Bay
  • How much: R180 – R250

PHOTO CREDIT: Nanette Evenhuis (Woordfees 2022)

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