Nights of old movie stars in days of… the gi­ant pro­jec­tor

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - DI CAEL­ERS

SABC model build­ing depart­ment head Rod Camp­bell un­veiled a re­stored cast of Liewe Heksie: Levinia, Matewis Kat, Kwaai Ba­batjie and Blom­mie.

They look much smaller in re­al­ity than they did on screen. The con­trols were able to move Heksie’s eye­lids, head and arms. The pup­pet has the orig­i­nal con­trols and eyes, but her wig was re­done and the orig­i­nal fab­ric was sourced for her witch’s out­fit.

The cast was re­con­structed by Jo Roets of CityVarsity, from watch­ing Liewe Heksie DVDs and look­ing at pic­tures.

Some of The Lit­tle Mar­i­onette Com­pany’s work from re­cent years, in­clud­ing pup­pets made for se­ries still seen on kykNET, such as Tjiff & Tjaff, Matilda and Glub-Glub, are on dis­play. Th­ese were later dubbed into Zulu and Tswana for broad­casts on the Magic World chan­nel. Vis­agie says they did a good job se­lect­ing new voices for the char­ac­ters, but adds that hu­mour does some­times get lost in trans­la­tion.

Of to­day’s shows, Vis­agie says: “It be­came eas­ier to buy pro­grammes. With an­i­ma­tion the pos­si­bil­i­ties are so big… The big­gest re­spon­si­bil­ity is per­form­ing for chil­dren. There is tal­ent here, but the ma­chine came to a stop.”

Talk­ing Strings is at CityVarsity, 32 Kloof Street, Gar­dens, un­til July 19. Times are 10am to 4pm on week­days, and 10am to 2pm on Satur­days. Vis­agie will do a walk­a­bout on Wed­nes­day from 11am to 12.30pm. I’M PER­SUADED – against my will be­cause of all the abuse I’m sure to get about my ad­vanced age – to re­call how, when I was in Std 6 at school (even that’s changed now to Grade 8!) our very first TV set ar­rived in the lounge.

It was a day of high an­tic­i­pa­tion, ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily mem­bers with the aerial on the roof shout­ing down to oth­ers wig­gling knobs on this spec­tac­u­lar new piece of en­ter­tain­ment… un­til we got… the test pat­tern. It was black and white, but my older brother, who still en­joys the very best things in life, searched out a weird con­trap­tion that sat in front of the screen of­fer­ing a smidgen of colour – if you looked re­ally hard.

But none of us cared. We watched ev­ery sin­gle thing… English, Afrikaans… if it was in Span­ish we would have watched that too. No one cared about age-ap­pro­pri­ate choices, and the pup­pets of Liewe Heksie, Ben­nie Boek­wurm and Haas Das se Nu­uskas be­came like new mem­bers of the fam­ily.

In fact, I’m sure I could still dredge up the words to the dit­ties if some­one started me off.

Be­fore the ar­rival of that box in the lounge, in-house en­ter­tain­ment had been courtesy of a gi­ant pro­jec­tor, which my fa­ther bought my broth­ers and I, and which dra­mat­i­cally upped our pop­u­lar­ity in the neigh­bour­hood.

Satur­day nights (or maybe it was Fri­days) were movie nights, and ev­ery­one came. The lounge was full to burst­ing and some­times we even moved the “event” out­side on par­tic­u­larly hot Dur­ban evenings.

Huge reels had to be changed, al­low­ing con­ve­nient toi­let breaks. And when the film broke, a col­lec­tive sigh could be heard far and wide. I re­mem­ber my fa­ther even in­vest­ing in a splic­ing ma­chine to zap to­gether snapped bits of film. Those were the nights of old movie stars like Mario Lanzo, John Wayne, Doris Day and Au­drey Hep­burn.

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