When I meet Rob van Vuuren, he is leaping across the stage at PJ’s with his daughter Bijou – they’re “jumping across the river”. Once she has grown tired of this act, and of him, she leaves and Rob starts changing while we chat. Throwing clothes around and gelling his hair, he yammers as if he is in the throes of the last few moments of a game of 30 Seconds. This Festival he is performing the final season of his standup comedy routine, WhatWhat. But he’s far more than a standup.
Performing 27 times in five different shows – plus directing two more shows – this Festival, he transitions from comedy to dramatic arts daily.
This isn’t the work of a split personality, but rather years of experience and time dedicated to performing. “I’ve had years of practice in multi-character stuff,” says Van Vuuren, as he hurriedly removes his black and yellow track pants. “In any given production I’ll be playing a multitude of different characters with different states of mind and styles.”
Although it may seem a daunting challenge to the audience, and potentially detrimental to one’s psyche, Van Vuuren uses it as his fuel. “I just love doing different things,” he explains. “I’d get extremely bored if I was just doing one aspect of performance.”
As he furiously ties his shoes with three minutes before he’s due to go onstage for a performance of WhatWhat, Van Vuuren explains how he has made it to his 20th year of performing.
It takes a lot of effort and love for the art to get through what he has gotten through. “I really love what I do,” he says. “But once you’re on stage and the audience is there you can’t be kak. Because if you’re kak, it’s the worst feeling in the world. I’m driven by a combination of passion and fear of failure.”
With one minute left, the crowd floods in. The lights dim, music blasts and Rob van Vuuren bounds on to stage, pink and purple tutus in hand, and as passionate as ever.
Cue student reporter