Interview: Sue Diepeveen of YOUR PERFECT LIFE at Theatre on the Square Chats on Why this Show Is Perfection

This award-winning production journeys to the Joburg stage this April

By: Apr. 15, 2024
Interview: Sue Diepeveen of YOUR PERFECT LIFE at Theatre on the Square Chats on Why this Show Is Perfection
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Interview: Sue Diepeveen of YOUR PERFECT LIFE at Theatre on the Square Chats on Why this Show Is Perfection

YOUR PERFECT LIFE took audiences by storm when it made its debut at the National Arts Festival in 2019. The production, which is loosely inspired by the lives of the two writers and performers, Erika Breytenbach-Marais and Faeron Wheeler, snatched up two Standard Bank Ovation Awards – one in 2019 and another in 2021. This year, YOUR PERFECT LIFE is back to wow fresh audiences – this time in Gauteng. YOUR PERFECT LIFE comes to Theatre on the Square in Sandton until 20 April 2024. Broadway World chatted to Director Sue Diepeveen, who helped to steer YOUR PERFECT LIFE from conversations over catch-up coffees to a thoughtful, funny and truthful take on women’s lives. She shares some insight below.

BWW: Let’s start off with – What initially drew you to YOUR PERFECT LIFE?

Sue: Well, the idea of a reunion is, frankly, a terrifying one and I loved the idea of the premise of bumping into the one person that you didn't want to see. I feel women judge other women harshly and I loved the prickly nature of the engagement between the two characters.

BWW: What do you want audience members to take away from this show?

Sue Diepeveen: I think it is just the fact that we let friendships slip in and out of our lives like the seasons. The fact is that we need to treasure our true friendships, honour them, make time for each other, and say the ‘sorrys’ because true friends are the most important thing in life: the family you get to pick for yourself and, together, we are certainly stronger. 

BWW: Who should see this show and why?

SD: Well, I think it resonates with everyone.  It is a look at a specific moment in time and there are many people out there who think that they are alone with these kinds of issues, and it is refreshing to know that you are not. We get that feedback all the time. Also, anyone who hankers after a life that they do not have should see it as a stark reminder that the grass is not greener on the other side.


BWW: Which of the two characters do you relate to more?

SD: Well, I relate more to the character who isn't depicted on stage...the one who has the family and the career and who is trying to make the pressures of that seem normal.  There is a new trend called being a ‘Trad Wife’ which is intriguing as younger women realise that having it all is damned difficult and they are opting for motherhood and homemaking and not being swayed by the ambition of those of us who put career ahead of all else. I see bits of myself in each of the characters and I think everyone who watches it can identify with the loneliness they both feel at some point or another.

BWW: What is your process? How do you approach a new work that you are directing?

SD:  Well, the ladies would say that first I tear into the script but what I think is important is to really delve into what the piece is trying to say, and to keep up with that trajectory while digging around in the depths of the feelings. I think it is a director and actor's job to stay true to the script and what the writer is trying to convey and sometimes that is tougher than one thinks.  With this piece I had the writers on the floor so to speak and we could really explore holes in the plot which opened the whole thing up for all of us together.

BWW: How did you originally get into the theatre industry? Do you have an early memory of when you knew you wanted to get involved in the arts?

SD: I remember having the best time on stage in primary school and then that transferred over to high school.  I love the immediacy of theatre and the rush when things go well as well as when they do not!  It makes one feel alive.

BWW: Do you have a favourite production you have worked on?

SD: Hmmm that would be like kissing and telling! Of course there are some that I have enjoyed more than others but I am proud of all of the work that I have done and strive to make the next show better than those that have gone before.  I wear many hats so there are many facets to each show for me and I can't say that I enjoy directing above writing or performing. What I love is hearing audiences afterwards: even if they don't like it, they offer an opinion as to why and that is the joy for me – to stimulate conversation.

BWW: Summarise the show in three words.

SD: Funny, truthful and uplifting.

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YOUR PERFECT LIFE runs at Theatre on the Square in Sandton until Saturday 20 April. Tickets are available via Computicket and range from R150 to R180.


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