It was unexpected, unbelievable and overwhelming.
This is how Chenal Kock, 22, a playwright from Beacon Valley, described the moment when she received the Kanna award for her production In die Woud for the best Children’s Theatre Production - an inaugural award and a category that was judged by a children’s panel.
The Kanna award ceremony, which took place in May, celebrates and acknowledges creative excellence at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK).
Chenal had two of her productions running at the KKNK, the second titled Cindershoeler. Both plays ran over a period of eight days and were nominated in the same genre at the festival.
The KKNK is a national, annual arts festival that took place in Oudtshoorn in April. Chenal wrote and directed the two plays, which were performed 24 times at the festival.
“It was the first year that I entered for the KKNK, and to be honest I didn’t expect it to do this well. In Die Woud was a story about how a young man travels through the jungle and along his way discovers a magical cloth. It also involves elements of physical theatre and soundscape,” she told Plainsman.
The play had a cast of three and included Caleb Petersen, Jurgen Mc Ewan and Kurt Jonas.
“They did exceptionally well, and I would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work,” she said.
Chenal said her love for theatre started at Cedar High School in Rocklands, where she matriculated in 2012. She said when she heard that Cedar was an arts focus school, she was even more motivated to do her schooling there.
“I think I was privileged attending Cedar. I had the support of the teachers, especially Peter Braaf who built a firm foundation.
“We were given freedom to do what we wanted in terms of our crafts and most importantly were exposed to the industry,” she said.
Chenal said she knew that in order to keep her dream alive, she needed to work hard and get into university. She was then accepted to study drama at the University of Stellenbosch where she obtained her BA degree in drama in 2015. Thereafter she studied further and did her Honours in Applied Theatre at Stellenbosch.
“When I was at primary school I was encouraged to work hard and obtain good marks in order to get into high school. When I was in high school I knew that I needed to obtain even better marks in order to get into a university. So I worked hard, I took part in extra -murals such as the Representative Council of Learners (RCL), the drama group and the cycling club. My parents had my back, they knew what my goal was and supported me throughout the journey,” she said.
Chenal said it wasn’t easy studying at Stellenbosch University, as she had to travel with public transport to Stellenbosch every day for six months.
“Oh my gosh, it was exhausting. I had to be up at 5am, to take three taxis to Stellenbosch and I had to make sure that I strategise properly otherwise I would be late for classes. So, I had to plan my day and mentally prepare. Other than that, I had to work hard because some of the concepts I did not learn at my school, where others did at their private schools.
“But, that made me a stronger person, and now a few years later I have a degree, so it was worth making the sacrifices,” she said.
Her message to young people, especially during Youth Month is to work hard and surround yourself with positive people and influences. “If you look at my area, young people are engaging in drug and gang activity. I decided that I was not going to go on that path and took control of my life. I encourage our young people to have a dream, work at getting it and associate yourself with positive influences,” she said.