The Storyteller of Riverlea at the Baxter Flipside

By MapMyWay
10 June 2019

Zane Meas, The Story of Riverlea, Baxter Theatre
The Storyteller of Riverlea explores the life of renowned South African author Chris Van Wyk

7de Laan stars Zane Meas and Christo Davids present Van Wyk – The Storyteller of Riverlea, the story of Chris van Wyk, at the Baxter Flipside for a limited season from 12 to 29 June. This follows its sold-out success at the Market Theatre earlier this year.

Created and performed by Meas, directed by Christo Davids, The Storyteller of Riverlea explores the life of renowned South African author Chris Van Wyk – his influence as a poet and a writer and as a political activist, as well as his family life and his battle with cancer. This production pays homage to his humour, political values and his storytelling abilities, all of which have touched the lives of everyone that he encountered and those who have read his works.

Johan Myburg from Beeld said, “This latest production confirms Van Wyk as an innovative writer that deserves to be read.”

Zane and Christo both performed as Chris Van Wyk in Janice Honeyman’s adaptation of Shirley, Goodness and Mercy which played to full houses in the Baxter Theatre Centre’s production which was also staged at the Market Theatre in 2008.

The Storyteller of Riverlea marks the fifth collaboration between the two soapie stars, in a partnership that spans 12 years.

Chris Van Wyk – The Storyteller from Riverlea

Van Wyk grew up in the coloured suburb of Riverlea, just south of Johannesburg – a community which he later lovingly brought to life in Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (2004) and Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch (2010).

He adapted Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom into a book for young readers and wrote a series of short biographies of liberation struggle figures for school children. A Message in the Wind, published in 1982, won the Maskew Miller Longman Award for Children’s Literature. His memoirs pay extensive tribute to the strong and resourceful women in his family and community, particularly his mother (the “Shirley” of the title) and grandmother.

In 1979, Van Wyk published one of the most-quoted anti-apartheid poems, In Detention, which appeared in the collection It is Time to Go Home and for which he received the Olive Schreiner Prize. He wrote over 20 books, including poetry collections and children’s books. Some of his Individual poems have been published in Europe, Turkey, the United States of America and Canada. In 1996 he received the Sanlam Prize for the best South African short story for Magic.

The prolific author and poet pulled no punches when it came to castigating racial and social injustice. His writing gave an insight into his creative spirit and his humour spoke of a capacity for resilience and an irrepressible appetite for life, even in complex circumstances. Sadly, he passed away in October 2014, at the age of 57.

Much of Chris Van Wyk writing may be viewed as an enactment of what Njabulo Ndebele called “the rediscovery of the ordinary”. In the ordinariness of life, he found his inspiration; but his imagination and craftsmanship transformed it into something extraordinary, even magical. In Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch Van Wyk explains that “writing a memoir is a little like travelling into your own past. Unlike science fiction, you can’t change the past. But, like science fiction, it does have its own magic.”

Christo Davids recently wrote and directed the award-winning play My Seuns which won multiple awards for Best Production, Best Director, Ground-breaking New Work, Best Script and Best Supporting Actor at the 2018 Aardklop Festival. At the Baxter, in recent years, he was seen in My Naam is Ellen Pakkies and Scrooge.

WHERE: Baxter Flipside, Baxter Theatre Centre, Main Rd, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700

WHEN: 12 to 29 June at 7.30pm nightly

TICKETS:  R120 from Mondays to Wednesdays, R150 from Thursdays to Saturdays and R100 for scholars, students and for block-bookings of 10 or more. Booking is through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at  or at Pick n Pay stores.

For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or email sharon.ward@uct.ac.za; Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

PHOTO: Zane Meas – photo by Lungelo Mbulwana