08 July, 2009
Remember Natasha from Backstage? Well, she’s in G-Town, just chillin’
By Colin Wardle and Onamandla Mathe
We’ve always considered the National Arts Festival to be ‘South Africa’s Sundance’, sans the snow and cinema emphasis. We do still have the celebrities though. Since we arrived at the Festival just over a week ago we’ve spotted numerous local celebrities around Grahamstown but when asked to find one for a vox-pop yesterday there were none to be found!
After two trips along High, Hill and African Street, a frolic on the Greens and hike up to the Monument (four hours of legwork) we were about ready to call it day and we did. We were just about ready to go back to the lab defeated when we ran into Tinarie van Wyk Loots signing autographs on Somerset Road. Loots is best known for her role as first-year photography/design student Natasha in the eTV soapie Backstage, in 2002 and more recently as Aimee Becher-Anderson in 2005’s Poseidon Adventure. She also was able to take some time out to chat to us (on her way to a lunch date around the corner) about what she was doing at this year’s festival.
Describing herself as a “lady of leisure” Loots is in Grahamstown “just to watch”. For someone who’d only arrived in Grahamstown a day previously she’d seen a lot, highly recommending ‘Zoo Story’, praising the actors for the incredible handling of the material. We also had some time to find out about her music interests. An indie girl at heart she makes her own mix tapes. That and the fact that her car’s CD player was stolen some time ago. Citing Squirrel Nut Zippers as her favourite band at the moment, the Southern Carolina band's eclectic fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s-era swing, klezmer, and other styles make them hard to categorise but they seem to have found a niche market that extends all the way to South Africa. Unfortunately Loot’s Squirrel Nut Zippers mix tapes were recently stolen along with the tape deck and various other tapes in her car.
For those who have been wondering what she’s been up to since, she’s appeared in BBC’s Silent Witness and more recently Johan Heyns’ Hond se Dinges. Taking a break from film and television she recently joined The Mechanicals a Cape Town based theatre ensemble. Their latest offering, The Mechanicals present in repertory The British Lines Tour (Little Theatre Complex 15 July – 22 August) promises audience various works from likes of Oscar Wilde, Harold Pinter and Sarah Kane.
The interview was cut short by our sudden arrival at Loot’s lunch destination. Although tens, maybe even hundreds of celebrities flock to Grahamstown for the festival every year, it is always refreshing to see them moving freely amongst the public, seeing the same bad shows we do and haggling for R5 off a purchase.
* Wardle and Mathe are students at the University of Cape and the Durban University of Technology respectively. They’re currently participating in the Winter School of the Future Journalist Programme (FJP) at Rhodes University.