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Performing artist describes the joys of being a creative

Theatre practitioner Roland Perold says that when choosing projects to involve himself in, he leans towards projects that bring together the magic of theatre and music.

GLENWOOD resident Roland Perold has been working in the performing arts industry for 18 years. You may have seen him in one of the many local plays or cabaret shows he has played a role in, either as an actor, singer, songwriter, musical director or producer. He wears many hats and labels himself as a theatre practitioner.

Berea Mail reached out to the local talent to find out more about his career and what drives his passion for theatre.

Perold says that in the performing arts industry, being versatile is key. “I’ve had the pleasure of working in the performing arts industry since 2009, and I’ve always maintained that being versatile is key. Be available to help out when needed. Be willing to take that gig where you’re not in the spotlight so that you’re in the game; you can still add value. I’ve held various portfolios – actor, singer, songwriter, musical director, producer and so on – and what makes me a ‘theatre practitioner’ is that I reflect on my overall impact, alongside fellow creatives, on the broader creative industry on an ongoing basis and readjusting if/when necessary. Anyone who works in theatre in South Africa is in audience-development whether they realise it or not.”

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Perold began building his illustrious resume in theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “My studies started at UKZN with a Bachelor of Music degree, followed by a Licentiate Diploma in Musical Theatre at the Waterfront Theatre School in Cape Town. I worked for a few years and then completed my Master’s in Music overseas in the UK, in Bath, and that’s where I obtained my compositional skillset. This led to new musical theatre development, which I’ve been passionate about for some time, and birthed the Cabaret and Beyond Festival for new musical theatre composers at the Centre for Creative Arts at UKZN.”

Although he was an undergraduate student at the time, Perold’s first professional gig was in 2005 with the Playhouse Company when they mounted The Sound of Music.

“I was in the ensemble and understudied ‘Rolf’. It was all new, big, exciting and just a blast. But, for the most part, I consider my career to have started upon graduation in 2009,” he said.

The Glenwood resident says that although it can sometimes be tough working in theatre, the reward of creating something that affects people is what drives him. “Work can be scarce. That’s just how it is. But the wonderful thing about theatre is that, if you’re savvy, you can make it [a show] yourself! If you’re new, you won’t be able to produce with big budgets and large casts, but you can still mount an intimate play or musical show and bring joy into people’s lives. It’s about building your working community and servicing the audience. This is a live artform that brings people together in space and time to have that collective ‘wow!’ moment when something amazing happens onstage.”

Perold says he’s produced a number of musical revue and cabaret-type shows over the years, some one-man-format works and others with fellow artists. “There was also the South African premiere of the off-Broadway musical, Edges, and projects that showcase new musical theatre development, namely, the Cabaret and Beyond Festival which started in 2020. I produced multiple shows on the fringe at the National Arts Festival, eight years in a row, so there are too many to remember!”

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The theatre practitioner says that when choosing projects to involve himself in, he leans towards projects that bring together the magic of theatre and music. “I try to choose my collaborators carefully because what we don’t need in the rehearsal room is drama! I always strive for artistic excellence, but I’m not a snob, and mounting a bit of light-hearted fluff can be fun as long as it’s done tastefully.”

Coming up, Perold is working on a new musical titled Company, by Stephen Sondheim and with George Furth as the play’s musical director. “I’m working with KickstArt Theatre Productions which is mounting the South African premiere of this Tony award-winning show. I’m thrilled to be engaged as musical director and also playing Peter in the show. We’re at The Sneddon Theatre from April 9 to April 21. Tickets are available through Webtickets.”

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