Blind ac­tor blazes his own trail

Ed­u­ca­tion is the key that will open the door to op­por­tu­ni­ties

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - Them­bela Mgudlwa

HE HAS scant vi­sion, but 21-year old Tom­ley van Vu­uren can al­ready see a bright fu­ture for him­self as an ac­tor. Par­tially blind Van Vu­uren, for­mer stu­dent of the Pi­o­neer School for the blind in Worces­ter, is su­per ex­cited as he has been cast as the dis­ci­ple Peter in the stage pro­duc­tion of Je­sus Christ Su­per­star com­ing to the Bax­ter next month.

Van Vu­uren stud­ies drama and arts per­for­mance at North­link Col­lege af­ter he won a schol­ar­ship of R72 000 in a com­pe­ti­tion run by the col­lege.

“When I am on stage I feel com­fort­able, com­plete and con­tent, but when I am in a pub­lic space I some­times feel lost. Play­ing Peter is re­mark­able, in­ter­est­ing and lots of hard work. Act­ing is my first love and I do not let my par­tial blind­ness de­ter­mine my fu­ture, as I would like to por­tray a char­ac­ter in one of the top South African pro­duc­tions. My heart is in theatre and I love por­tray­ing Peter. I want noth­ing else but to ex­cel in my gift.”

Kobus Hanekom, drama and per­form­ing arts lec­turer at North­link, said he first met Tom­ley at the Wo­ord­fees in Stel­len­bosch play­ing the boy in Fiela se Kind.

“I was taken away by the boy’s tal­ent, and a year later I had the priv­i­lege of be­ing in­tro­duced and to work with the stu­dent. He is ex­cep­tional and good in his aca­demics and his craft as artist. The col­lege has given Tom­ley a com­puter to use in my of­fice, which al­lows him to view any­thing that has to do with his stud­ies,” said Hanekom, who is also the di­rec­tor of the play.

“He can por­tray any act­ing role and ex­cel, like any nor­mal per­son would do. For the past nine months work­ing with Tom­ley has been a priv­i­lege and hon­our as he is ex­tra­or­di­nary in my de­part­ment.”

Am­ber Gederbloem, 19, who plays Mary said work­ing with Tom­ley “is such an in­spi­ra­tion and mo­ti­va­tion as he is al­ways pro­fes­sional and I some­times for­get that he is par­tially blind, es­pe­cially when we are on stage. He is a nat­u­ral on stage.”

His friend Bran­den Kapel,19, de­scribed Tom­ley as a pro­fes­sional per­son who lets noth­ing pass him in class in what­ever he is do­ing and he does not let his par­tial blind­ness get the bet­ter of him.”

Tom­ley said his dream is to one day act and di­rect soapies like 7 de Laan or Isindingo. For now, he is fo­cused on his stud­ies be­cause he be­lieves that ed­u­ca­tion is the key that will open the door to op­por­tu­ni­ties. “I know that I am par­tially blind, but I want to be a mo­ti­va­tor and the best per­son that I can be for my fam­ily and my fu­ture.”

Je­sus Christ Su­per­star will run at the Bax­ter Theatre on Oc­to­ber 24 and 25. It is di­rected by Kobus Hanekom and stars Tom­ley van Vu­uren, Lukhanyo Wagqoyi, Bran­den Kapel and Am­ber Gelderbloem.

I WANT TO BE A MO­TI­VA­TOR AND THE BEST PER­SON THAT I CAN BE FOR MY FAM­ILY

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

DE­TER­MINED: Tom­ley van Vu­uren, Lukhanyo Wogqoyi, ‘Ju­das’, and Brandon Kapel, ‘Je­sus’. Par­tially sighted Van Vu­uren plays ‘Peter’ in a North­link Col­lege pro­duc­tion of Je­sus Christ Su­per­star.

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