“Sometimes women experience something and then they are reluctant to talk to someone about it because they don’t know how people will react. In such a moment, you don’t necessarily want to hear that you are a bad mother, wife or friend. If you can then talk to a friend who really understands, then it helps.”
This safe space that creates friendship for women is one of the most beautiful aspects of Staircasessays the actress Rika Nieuwoudt.
Rika tells RNews that she wrote this play together with her good friend and artist Edrien Erasmus. The production will be presented on 9 August at the AfriForum Theater in Pretoria.
Staircases is the story of Wilmien and Magriet, two friends who share in each other’s joy and sorrow. They met by chance years ago on a staircase at an art festival and immediately resonated with each other. From there, the friendship grew into a safe space where they can have deep conversations about all things in life.
“The piece was inspired by my and Edrien’s friendship,” says Rika, and adds: “When we see each other again, she and I are sitting somewhere on a step, drinking coffee and talking about matters of the heart. We later started joking about our stairwell sessions, and it eventually became the name of our production.”
The piece explores deeper topics that sometimes come with complex emotions: from weddings and late-night hangouts, to raising babies and the loss of people. It is also a celebration of the strength and support that true friendship provides.
Rika, who is also a sports presenter and lecturer at Akademia, believes that it was not always easy to play the role of Wilmien. “It was actually particularly difficult for me. Most of Wilmien’s journeys are something I have never experienced myself. So it was really challenging to get to that emotional connection.”
According to Rika, they want to with Staircases also shows how the calibrated perceptions about women and their friendships are wrong, and that the true friendship between women can be something beautiful and supportive.
“In view of Women’s Month, we want to tell people that there is definitely room for two different women with different personalities in one place. We are all different, but when we support each other something beautiful happens.”
Staircases is directed by Nadia Beukes, and the music director is Chanie Jonker. Tickets cost R180 and are available on AfriForum Theatre’s website.