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Secrets, lies, togetherness and apartheid  

Award-winning actress Bo Petersen returns to the Cape Town stage with Pieces Of Me, a profoundly moving personal story of the unspoken histories that many people carry within.

Bo Petersen grew up in a white family during apartheid in South Africa. When she was 19, she uncovered her father’s secret, that he was not white. He had married the love of his life, who was white, and from the age of 28 he lived as a white man.

When Bo found out about her father’s hidden life, his secret, nearly 40 years ago, her life changed in a profound way. She became the custodian of his secret. She began writing “pieces” as a way of trying to understand her father, his “passing” (as white) and, in turn, her “passing”. They were collaborators in their knowledge and silence.

a visceral reminder of the pain of identity, belonging, longing, loss and betrayal caused by apartheid, made personal and specific via the story of Bo’s father and his family. A remarkable and brave achievement.

David Wicht

Bo won many awards in her illustrious career as an actress across stage, television and film in South Africa, Europe and in the US, before turning her hand to directing. She has continued to set the stage alight from the director’s chair, with awards and accolades from the Fleur du Caps to the Edinburgh Festival and the Tonys.

In 2022, Bo embarked on a deeply personal journey with “Pieces of Me,” a play she describes as a culmination of her life’s work. Touring Norway, Sweden and several US states, her return to her beloved South Africa is eagerly anticipated.

My family story is not unique in South Africa. However, it is one that is not often told, and these stories need to be told, as part of a healing process for the devastating damage wreaked by the inhuman laws passed and entrenched by the apartheid government.

Bo Petersen

What began as a solo show has been expanded, with her cousin, the musician Christopher Petersen, joining her on stage. In addition to his skill as a bass player in the fields of pop, jazz and ballroom, Christopher Petersen is known for his work guiding the next generation of musicians. He helped to establish the Jazz Yard Academy in Bonteheuwel, an initiative aimed at uplifting young people through music, and played a key role for a number of years in selecting and preparing South African teen musicians for the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation.

Bookings via Webtickets.

Pieces of Me is about family, love, duty, the art of acting, and Bo ties it all together beautifully. Pieces of Me shows the way oppressive national politics impacts family dynamics, and often leads to generational trauma. Bo’s performance is a powerful statement of selfhood and rejection of the divisions imposed by the laws of apartheid.  I found the show to be thoughtful, moving and necessary.

N. Honwana

Pieces Of Me will be performed at the Baxter Studio from 10 July until 27 July. Tickets, from R165 to R220, via Webtickets and at Pick n Pay Stores.

It is written and performed by Bo Petersen with music by Chris Petersen. The play is directed by Royston Stoffels and presented by Assitej SA.

Age advisory: No under 10s

It creates a space of remembrance where a performer carries the family’s history

Grace Tabea Tenga, scenekunst

The production is grateful for the support of Wise Wheels Car Rental, The Living Theatre and South Bend Civic Theatre. Special thanks to Bo’s family, the Gurley Leep Automotive Family and all the other very generous donors from NYC and South Bend Indiana.

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