Erik de Waal telling African Tales (Leif Norman)
Basically it goes down to the principles of the show. It's storytelling, which is universal and ageless.
—Erik de Waal, storyteller
South African storyteller Erik de Waal first performed in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 1999 and he's been coming back every year since. "It's become a part of my regular circuit and I've got an amount of people who come and see me every year," says the Cape Town native.
De Waal is presenting two shows, African Folk Tales with Erik de Waal for kids aged four to 10, with puppets and masks, and Erik de Waal's Tales from the Twilight for the grown-ups with ghost stories and adult content. The shows are popular as ever, with a number of sell-outs so far.
After returning to Winnipeg for 15 years in a row, you'd think some audience members would have grown up with de Waal. "There's a fair amount of people who came to see either my adult or my kids show over the years and then started seeing both. I've had the same thing happen over and over again. Kids will see the kids show and then grow out of the kids show into the grown-up show. And I often see teenagers at the kids show and think, what are they doing here?" They just keep coming back.
After one of his shows, a boy came up to tell him he's been seeing the shows for eight years. His mother says next year she'll bring him to the adult show. Another time, a girl who had been seeing the kids shows for many years attended a grown-up show. But her mother said she was so frightened she kept her eyes closed the whole time.
De Waal is not surprised by the multi-generational appeal of his performances. "Basically it goes down to the principles of the show. It's storytelling, which is universal and ageless," he says. "It's just the subject matter that differs between the kids shows and the adult shows. It's stories that speak to humans, no matter what age they are."
Catch African Folk Tales with Erik de Waal at the Kids Venue and Erik de Waal's Tales from the Twilight at Venue 6.
Melanie Gall sings her way through two Fringe shows