Gordon and Helene Paterson are stuck. Stuck in their same armchairs, on their farm and in their same rut.
One longs to get out of South Africa and experience everything retirement has to offer, while the other won't leave his milk tart. When they finally leave everything they've ever known and head for the shores of New Zealand, the result is hilarious and heart-breaking as they discover it's hard work to find "home."
A dark comedy written and performed by Robyn Paterson
A word from writer and performer Robyn Paterson:
'The South Afreakins' was inspired by my parents, Gordon and Helene Paterson and the story of their immigration from South Africa to New Zealand.
This solo show is about the struggle that immigrants feel when they leave everything and everyone they know. When we no longer have our work or friends or family around us to give us identity, and we leave behind our niche that is fast closing and the one in front of us hasn't yet opened yet, where does one find that identity? Gordon and Helene struggled with this for years. The prominent African lineage that runs through their veins and the fierce patriotism they hold for their country hasn't lessened in the twenty-four years they've lived in New Zealand but they've never really fit in and always felt like they've been slightly out of step. (Gordon Paterson's great-great grandfather was John Paterson, the politician who founded Port Elizabeth in 1840 and The Standard Bank of South Africa). I felt it too, growing up. I only spent six years in South Africa but when I go home there, I feel like I’m going home to my clan. People think like me, and talk like me and the rhythms I emanate match that of Africa and this is the story about diversity that I want to tell.
“A flawless performance”
–The New Zealand Short and Sweet Theatre Festival
Robyn Paterson plays both Helene and Gordon Van Pattisburg. The set is minimalistic and the show relies heavily on the performance which has already won two awards. An abridged ten minute version of The South Afreakins was performed in the 2012 New Zealand Short and Sweet Theatre Festival where Robyn Paterson won 'Best Performance by an ITC (Independent Theatre Company'). She performed it again in the 2014 Sydney Short and Sweet Theatre Festival and won 'Best Female Festival Newcomer'. The ten minute version has been devised into an hour long performance.