Nothing but David Kramer, an interview

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The name David Kramer is as well-known as Sunlight liquid – people use this name all the time. But do we really know this man behind the familiar bike and the red shoes? The book David Kramer: A Biography has just been launched in Cape Town. Naomi Meyer asked this performer about his life and his career.

Foto: Retha Ferguson

David ... Let's start at the very beginning: tell us about your mother.

My mother didn't drive a car like other mothers. She rode a bicycle and I sat behind her in a little cane basket made by the school for the blind. Sitting behind her I had no idea where we were going, but knew where we had been.

Were you the class clown?

I wasn't the class clown, I was the teacher’s pet.

Or the guy who liked the Speech and Drama classes?

Speech and drama didn't exist at school in Worcester. All you could participate in at school was rugby, cricket, volkspele and cadets.

Did you always dream of being a performer?

I didn't dream about it, I just performed from a very young age. Being a performer wasn’t a reality when one was growing up in South Africa in the 1950s.

A performer ... When I asked the previous question, the word just came naturally. But is that who and what you truly are, David?

It’s one of the aspects of who I am.

Please describe yourself.

I am a storyteller who uses words and music to speak to an audience. Sometimes I write songs, sometimes I sing them and tell stories. Creating and directing musicals encompasses all of what I do.

Has your identity stayed the same throughout your career? Are you still the same guy with the rooi velskoene and kruisbande?

As a performer I adopt various persona. I don't wear braces/kruisbande – never have. That was just something dreamt up by the ad agency that did the VW ads. I wore them once for a few hours on a TV shoot.

And after the death of Taliep Pietersen, did you change? Or did you stay the same after this event?

My friend was murdered – how can that not have a lasting effect?

Some like it vrot, the name of your new show, is a clever, funny and slightly sad title. Typically David Kramer, in a way. Do you think of yourself as a sort of South African Woody Allen, somebody who looks at life with a smile and a tear in the eye simultaneously?

I don't think of myself as anything but David Kramer.

Please tell us about this new show of yours.

Some like it vrot is a musical comedy set in contemporary Cape Town, and moves between Wynberg and Woodstock, Grassy Park and the Waterfront. In Some like it vrot, Smiley (Marc Lottering) and Fuad (Christo Davids) become entangled in a life-threatening situation and have to run for their lives. They turn to Inspector Meintjies to help them escape their predicament. She comes up with a novel and outrageous solution. They are reluctant to go along with her plan, but have no choice. It might just save their lives.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I have had more highlights in my career than most Idols contestants have in their hair these days.

Your career, is it a passion, a burden, a calling, or just The Industry?

I am an artist – I don't think in those terms. But if I have to use the words you have chosen then “passion” is appropriate

The interview started with David's personal anecdote of his mother and now concludes with his own words about his father. The other day David Kramer wrote on Facebook: "My father died this morning. He was 96 years old. One of his favourite pastimes was to exercise outside on the lawn. He stood on his head every day until just a few weeks ago. He taught me how to do this when I was young. From him I learnt to express myself physically and at the same time, gave me another way of seeing the world. We will miss his vital presence."

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