SAAHK Spotlight On…

From the City of Roses to Asia’s World City, home-grown acting, producing and directing duo, Lymari Alberts and Jan Brink, have been making waves in the theatre world both locally and internationally. Credited with bringing the first ever Afrikaans theatre production to Hong Kong, Lymari and Jan have been making the South African community in Hong Kong extremely proud these past few months. With their second theatre production, Lungs, debuting in Hong Kong on 12 November (in both English and Afrikaans), we thought we’d meet up with this dynamic duo to find out more.  
Where were you born?
We were both born in Bloemfontein, City of Roses. We both studied at the University of the Free State, Department Drama and Theatre Arts where we also got acquainted with each other. This is also where we took our first steps toward a career in the arts. Shortly after, Jan went to the Cape of Good Hope to freelance. Lymari traded roses for gold and went to Johannesburg. Jan soon followed (which would become a trend).
What brought you to Hong Kong?
For Lymari, the traffic on Republic Road in Johannesburg one fine morning on the way to work would be the shortest answer. “I was looking for opportunities to travel and stay in the theatre industry. Hong Kong provided that opportunity.” In keeping with the trend, Jan followed Lymari. “But as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, and in Hong Kong, it literally is. Anyone can see the appeal.”
How long have you lived here?
Lymari has been here for a year and a handful of days, while Jan has only been in Hong Kong for about four months.
What do you currently do?
Beside moonlighting as theatre makers, we are both drama teachers at a private theatre education company. We teach at various international schools across Hong Kong.
What work did you do before coming to Hong Kong?
Both of us wrote, acted, directed and produced. We had to be multitalented. Making your own work is paramount in this industry. If you’ve ever been to an arts festival, we were probably there too. Ever heard of Tjiff and Tjaff? We wore those costumes. Lymari has been a production assistant for a television show, while Jan did research for a different one. We’ve worked on screen, as well as behind the scenes around the writers’ table and the director’s chair.
What is your favourite thing about Hong Kong?
Besides the predictable answer of safety, convenience, skyscrapers and beautiful landscape: every Sunday, a man dressed as a random superhero rides his bike through Mui Wo, playing some really obscure music. The playlist varies, sometimes it’s 80s rock, sometimes it’s Cantopop, but almost always the theme to whatever superhero he’s dressed as will play. He’s been doing it for years. No one knows who he is. We love that. He’s our favourite thing about Hong Kong. Jan also particularly enjoys the 18:30 ferry from Central to Mui Wo.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
Lymari: There is a super unique culture and vibrancy in Braamfontein; it doesn’t have a face or a name or a language, but it’s so authentically South African that it becomes tangible and addictive. I miss being part of that culture. Also, the Mystic Boer in Bloemfontein, art galleries in Maboneng District, Meiringspoort waterfall and Mango Atchar kotas in Soweto.
Jan: South Africa is a pretty rock and roll country. It’s like a teenager. It does things its own way, solving its problems based on improvisation rather than set methods. It still has a lot to learn in the global scheme of things, being a young democracy, and I miss being a part of the history it’s making now. Then again, I also miss my friends and family. And the high-quality steak. Not this willy-nilly stuff imported from Australia.
Tell us more about your past, current and future projects and plans in Hong
Mooi Annie was the first production we did in Hong Kong. The support from the South African community was massive. We are in the rehearsal process for Lungs which will be played once in Afrikaans and once in English. This is very exciting for us, because these are strange waters and we are diving in headfirst as far as making theatre goes. We hope to see everyone from Mooi Annie at the The Hive in Kennedy Town on November 12! There are a number of people and associations that we have to thank, but especially Dolla Young from The Stoep for opening her doors to us and taking a chance on a pair of scallywags from the old country. And then Cecile from Leap Initiative. You guys have no idea how much you’ve helped us on our creative journey in Hong Kong. As for the future – there are one or two projects on the horizon, but all will be revealed in due course.
Lungs will be performed at The Hive Studios in Kennedy Town on Sunday, 12 November 2017. There will be two performances on the day.
3pm – Longe (Afrikaans performance)
7pm – Lungs (English performance)
Tickets are available at:
SAAHK members are entitled to a 15% ticket discount to both performances. Please emails to receive the discount code before booking your tickets.
More about Lungs:
Actor and actress, Hilletje Bashew Möller and Jan Brink star in the Hong Kong premiere of this internationally acclaimed modern relationship drama – a witty, tender and profound love story by award-winning British writer Duncan Macmillan.
Last year, the Free State National Arts Festival awarded the production directed by South African director JP du Plessis, for Best Upcoming Talent 2016. The same production team will be in Hong Kong for one day only to mesmerize Hong Kong audiences.
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