Sandy Rudd shut up that hair.
Article Type: Interview
Subject: Theatrical producers and directors (Interviews)
Women in the theater (Interviews)
Author: Ehlers, Lize
Pub Date: 06/01/2008
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: June, 2008 Source Volume: 20 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Canadian Subject Form: Women in the theatre
Persons: Named Person: Rudd, Sandy
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 184549998
Full Text: 16 May 1955 - it has been said that more tornadoes occurred on that day than any other day of that decade - also happens to be the day that one of Namibia's most acclaimed names in theatre, Sandra Fiona Rudd, better known as Sandy, was born. Theatre director, consultant, playwright, fundraiser, teacher, art lecturer, children's book author and performance mentor, Sandy Rudd made her entrance into the world and has not stopped shaking it with 'colloquial' classics ever since.

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Never hoi polloi

Born in Zimbabwe, Sandy spent most of her childhood living in different parts of the 'Federation' (Rhodesia and Nyasaland) including Malawi and Zambia. The young Taurus-girl from a conservative civil servant family started her now almost fifty year love affair with theatre, when she performed in her first production as a 'bee' in a pantomime in Lusaka, Zambia

"I had a charmed upbringing." As white people in the times of colonial rule in Africa, Sandy is proud that her family never sat in the formal white section. "We were never hoi polloi. We were never with the masses, swimming downstream. We always had to question what was going on, why were things the way they were. I haven't stopped questioning and I never will."

Nicknamed 'kaffir lover', Sandy lived with the label for a long time, but celebrated the friendships and theatre relationships that continued to draw her to the Zimbabwean townships for the majority of her young days.

Inspired by Aladdin

At age five, Sandy saw Aladdin performed as a colourful pantomime, where a woman played the lead role. Ever since, she wanted to pay tribute to the show that ignited her torch in theatre. In April 2008, Sandy did just that, attracting more than six thousand five hundred viewers, especially children, to her production of Aladdin, a children's musical, at the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN).

"Who of you have never been inside a theatre? Please stand up." These were the words Sandy repeated at the beginning of each of the fifteen Aladdin shows brought to NTN. Every time, the masses rose, and celebrated their entrance into the world of theatre beginning their journeys with the same production that started Sandy on hers.

"I owed it to my canon of work to bring Aladdin to Namibia," says Sandy. The term 'canon of work,' indeed describes the mountain of stage productions Sandy Rudd has brought to Namibian audiences - more than 30 productions, reeling in more than five Best Production awards in Namibia.

Some of her work includes The Children of The Sun, The Curse of The Black Fish (International, Portugal), Little Shop of Horrors (Musical), You Silly Girl, The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe, SOS Village School Play, Thank you Ms H, Dragon's Breath Adventure (International, South Africa), Toad of Toad Hall, Snow White, Noddy, The Far Away Tree, Puff the Magic Dragon, Alice in Welwichialand, Mari-Lou Meets the Dragon, There was an Old Woman, Breakfast of Sjamboks, Top Table, Tigers Bones, The Lion's Roar, The Hot Mikado, Lysistrata, The Bewitched Tree, Everyman, Animal Farm. Jungle Book and Mogimotiseman. Sandy loves taking classics, imprinting a unique Namibian flair and putting them on stage. "Every play I have done in my life - is a story," says Sandy.

Living theatre

"I started directing at age 9, doing balancing acts with children my age, and all I remember is that I instinctively knew what to do. When I was in Standard 7, someone asked me how I am able to direct. I was taken aback by it. "I don't know,' was all I could say. All I knew is that is it was easy. And then I learnt everything I know now along the way."

With her BA in Drama obtained at UNAM and over four decades in production, Sandy Rudd maintains her eclectic energy and radiates her passion for theatre through her work with the community, schools, NGOs and tertiary institutions. She is a philanthropist who indulges in theatre as her way of making the world a better place.

"I read somewhere once, when you climb a mountain, and when you are on top, everything seems so clear. This is the feeling of theatre. You climb and experience emotional and physical challenges, but once you are up there, once opening night comes and all the shows are executed, all the effort becomes a sweet reality, a rewarding reality."

Raiding the sponsor block

With her 'clear concept' approach and a reputation for delivering quality productions, not to mention her visible love for theatre, Sandy raids the sponsor block with a knack that years of experience has taught her. Many Namibian directors and theatre practitioners have claimed that somehow Sandy Rudd gets all the funding. In defense of that she states that every single practitioner can and will get funding if they just persist.

An outspoken 'tart for her art,' Sandy never settles. If she gets turned down, she returns or seeks funding elsewhere. If her idea is not well crafted, she works on it until it has matured. If students feel too challenged for a role, she gives them smaller parts, to prep them for later big ones. "If you are serious about theatre, you will always find a way to put up a play," she adds.

Positive energy

With her exceptional concern for technical importance, Sandy still maintains the value of the entire production family allowing each production to soar. Everyone is equal in Sandy's eyes and she promotes amateur actors by teaming them with professionals, and thus, supports the growth of actors through on-stage experience.

Through her unique pitch of positive energy, she keeps a constant level of enthusiasm, a required quality in the theatre business. "It is a sense of being engulfed in a positive sphere. I take it in and radiate it out. People on stage and related to stage tend to comment about my energy-field. It is a blessing and I use it to the advantage of my productions and of my inner well-being."

Impacting others

Either it is the hair, voluminous and loud, a mane that has inspired a possible future book title, Shut Up, That Hair! or it is her reputation for creating magical images on stage; Sandy Rudd is a personality that has touched the lives of thousands of people. "Every day people walk up to me and ask, 'Do you remember me? I starred in your play' ... This is the joy and reward I get from working with youngsters in theatre. They always remember the part they played. Adults still come up to me, and say they drive past the theatre, and know that there is in an elephant in there."

These are the memories that Sandy Rudd lives to make and makes to live. With future projects already on the writing block, this blue eyed woman with the wild mane seeks to create and recreate the little moments in life that transform a life into a story.

Story and photo by Lize Ehlers
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.