All drama students know that daunting feeling of being on stage, often not because people are watching and enjoying your work, but because there are a few teachers or lecturers judging your every move. At the end your performance is scored out of a hundred.

Since my very first drama examination 14 years ago, I have always wondered what the “perfect” performance would look like. What do you have to do to get 100%? With every single performance I watch, the 15-year-old child in me hopes that this specific actor would rise up to the occasion, make my day and show me that 100% performance! Because of our subjectivity as human beings it will probably never happen, but we can get incredibly close. What is the closest an actor can get?

Legendary South African actress Sandra Prinsloo, currently starring in Moedertaal at the SU Woordfees, is as close to perfection as you can get. I have seen Prinsloo in other performances before, but in Moedertaal she delivers the performance of a lifetime.

The story of this one-woman show is quite simplistic: An elderly woman narratives her life story, its tragedies, highlights and mediocre moments. Her upbringing in a small town, the birth of her child and marrying the love of her life are ordinary things happening to everyday people, but the beauty with which the script delves into these moments transcends the ordinary.

Prinsloo’s acting is purely superb. The ease with which she switches between characters – her younger self, her child, her husband, her parents – are remarkable. She uses subtle physical differences that are still uniquely distinguishable, for example she just has to change her poster or the intensity of her stare, to immediately give life to a different character.

But being a play about mother tongue (in this case Afrikaans) and the words from a mother, Prinsloo’s vocal ability is her real strength. She does justice to the beautiful metaphors, and comparisons that the writer uses. She beautifully flows between thoughts with perfect articulation. Prinsloo captures your attention with nearly every word, whether through emphasis, volume, tone or intonation. She is a vocal master and will undoubtedly mesmerise you.

She delves into the emotional depths of the play without falling into clichés. It’s easy to go for the hysterical when tragedy strikes, but it’s artistic genius to go for a contrived, humanistic approach, without compromising the gravitas of the moment. And it’s this magic that makes Prinsloo stand out.

Nico Scheepers wrote and directed the play, and has thus established himself as one of the best in the business. His raw observance of everyday life is evocative and emotive. The language is lyrical and captures what lies between sentences; the thoughts that we have transcends any context.

Moedertaal is a must-see. It goes to the heart of good theatre: Simple, but powerful storytelling in its purest form.

The show is running at woordfees on:
08 March 18, 20:30, kykNET Hoërskool Stellenbosch
10 March 18, 10:00, kykNET Hoërskool Stellenbosch
10 March 18, 20:30, kykNET Hoërskool Stellenbosch
11 March 18, 10:00, kykNET Hoërskool Stellenbosch
11 March 18, 12:30, kykNET Hoërskool Stellenbosch

For more details about Woordfees, go to: