Scrapbook: Roberts & Voss in 2001

Scrapbook memories… every now and then I dip into scrapbooks that piled up during my 24 years as Arts Editor of The Mercury newspaper in Durban and, just for fun, dig out reviews and interviews from yesteryear. Today we go back some 16 years, to May and August 2001.


Scrapbook memories today are focused on two long-serving and still very popular Durban performers – one with his talent rooted in music, the other showing versatility as both a comic performer and an ace satirist.

The man in musicals is Evan Roberts, who, when we chatted for the article pictured above – which appeared in The Mercury on August 10 – was appearing in Piaf: No Regrets, alongside Janene van Pletsen, at Greyville’s now-defunct KwaSuka Theatre in Durban.

A drama with music, conceived by Pieter Scholtz, then owner of the KwaSuka Theatre, Piaf, No Regrets had Roberts as musical director, pianist and doing narration and, as he puts it in our interview, “a few cameo spots”.

The interview had Roberts discussing his having played piano since the age four, getting his first paid gigs – with a wedding and functions gig band – from the age of 12.

He described himself as impulsive – once deciding to fly to London to see friends, and booking and flying the next day.

The interview below appeared in The Mercury on May 23 and has Voss pictured with Rakau Boikanyo in a scene from an earlier Durban stage work, War Cry. That was written by and also featured John van de Ruit, the author of the hit Spud novels and, with Voss, co-writer of the Mamba series of plays that have been big successes for him and Voss.

The interview referred to Voss appearing in the world premiere of another drama, Greig Coetzee’s Seeing Red, which was being staged at the Playhouse at the time. It centred on varsity students living in a commune in 1986.

Voss played a left-wing, angry cynic in the work which was slightly autobiographical for Coetzee.

Voss explained back then that he has a degree in mechanical engineering and an honours degree in commerce, but opted instead to pursue a showbiz career. His first show professionally was The Final Cut.

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