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BWW Interview: Five on Friday with Roxane Hayward of The Fugard Theatre's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

BWW Interview: Five on Friday with Roxane Hayward of The Fugard Theatre's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Roxane Hayward as Viola de Lesseps
Photo credit: Daniel Rutland Manners

When SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE starts performances of its local premiere production at The Fugard Theatre next week, South African actor Roxane Hayward will take on the role of Viola de Lesseps, which won Gwyneth Paltrow an Oscar for her work in the multiple Academy Award-winning original film upon which the stage play is based.

Born in Johannesburg, Hayward is theatrically trained but has found remarkable success in film and television. She has played roles in local productions such as JOZI H and ISIDINGO, as well in the global arena, in BEAVER FALLS and LEONARDO for the BBC, in DEATH RACE: INFERNO for Universal and SAINTS AND STRANGERS for National Geographic. An international feature film, ACCIDENT, will premiere in cinemas this December.

One thing that Hayward shares with her stage counterpart is her passion for the power of the arts to change people. While Viola is an ambassador for the words of William Shakespeare, played in this production by Dylan Edy, Hayward is a spokeswoman for human empowerment, having made her bow as a director in a recent public service announcement about human trafficking titled OPEN YOUR EYES. She took some time out during the countdown to opening night to chat to BroadwayWorld South Africa about the show, The Fugard Theatre, her career and the South African theatre scene.

David Fick: In your career, you've achieved so much in television and film. What's it like to be back on stage for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE?

Roxane Hayward: Thank you. It has been such an exhilarating ride since I started my career. Working on a film set has an energy and atmosphere that is electric, but the thrill of being back on stage under the lights in front of a live audience alongside some of the best in the business is so special and such an honour. It was a bit daunting to begin with, but the support and comradery during rehearsals have turned all the nerves into butterflies.

DF: Whenever one arrives in the foyer of the Fugard to see a play, there's a vibe of conviviality and excitement, which often continues after the curtain falls. What's it like working behind the scenes?

BWW Interview: Five on Friday with Roxane Hayward of The Fugard Theatre's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Dylan Edy, Roxane Hayward and Louis Viljoen
in rehearsal for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Photo credit: Daniel Rutland Manners

RH: That is so true! The Fugard Theatre is such a special and unique space - it begins from the red carpet at the front door and is carried all the way through to the dressing rooms backstage. It is a well-oiled machine, and every individual plays their vital role with such impeccability. It is the perfect combination of fun and professionalism. I am loving being a part of the team.

DF: You've worked in multiple media, creating works of fiction and works based in reality that speak to your passion for making a difference in the world. What has the highlight of your career been so far?

RH: There have been so many beautiful projects that I have worked on so it is always hard to choose just one. Although, a particular highlight that springs to mind is the PSA that I worked on earlier this year. Affiliated with HeardPSA and CNN, the purpose of this reality-based project was to create an awareness on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The footage is all raw, rough and real and we ventured into some of the darkest places in order to bring light onto a hard to confront topic. A panel of judges who included legendary Quincy Jones and Joseph Fiennes, who funnily enough played Shakespeare in the SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE film, voted us second worldwide. It was my directorial debut and has definitely lit a spark within me to do more work behind the camera in the future.

DF: What do you think the biggest challenge facing South African theatre is at present?

RH: I think that South African theatre has a lot of support and excitement when it comes to the large-scale musicals that are full of sparkle and familiar toe-tapping tunes. However, dramas, straight plays and less commercial productions take a bit of a back seat when it comes to individuals choosing their entertainment for the evenings. I would say that changing this viewpoint is one of our main challenges in the theatre industry. More support is needed, but I believe it will come willingly should new audience members venture out of their comfort zones just once to begin with - the theatre bug is quick to bite!

BWW Interview: Five on Friday with Roxane Hayward of The Fugard Theatre's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Roxane Hayward and Dylan Edy
Photo credit: Daniel Rutland Manners

DF: In South Africa at this time, we have a huge mix of theatre legends and inspiring new artists. Who is your South African theatre hero?

RH: This is a difficult question as there are so many theatre greats to choose from. If choosing one, I would have to say Andrew Buckland. He is a phenomenal performer and a master of theatre. I actually attended a few of his acting and clowning workshops while I was in high school and I remember being in absolute awe of him. And when seeing him on the stage, I almost second guess myself as to if it is, in fact, him as he completely transforms himself into different characters from one production to the next. He is someone to look up to.

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE will run at the Fugard Theatre from 10 October 2017 on Tuesdays through Saturdays at 20:00, with 16:00 matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays, excepting 15 October. Tickets range in price from R130 to R320 and can be booked online through Computicket, by phone on 0861 915 8000, or in person at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. Bookings may also be made through the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554.

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