Artist of The Month- February- Jan Brink

Jan Brink has only been here a few months but he certainly hasn't wasted any time, as he is already been involved in three different local productions. Originally from South Africa, Jan is currently playing Tony Wendice in Dial "M" For Murder, which opens tonight at the McAulay Studio. 




1. Name, Age, Birthplace:

My name is Jan Brink, I’m 29 and I was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Not much more needs to be said about Bloemfontein.


2. How does where you were raised affect your work?

I was practically brought up in a theatre. My mom was, and still is, one of my favourite theatre-makers.  She worked as a lecturer at the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of the Free State and, growing up, I had the immense privilege of being able to stand backstage and watch as the theatre was made right in front of me. As I got older, I found that making theatre is a passion that one rarely gets paid for. I learnt very quickly to make do with fairly little in terms of the physical and material aspects of production. I began to rely heavily on my ability to tell a good story.

South Africa is a marvellous place, full of stories, some sad, others happy. That being said though, if you’re not in the right place at the right time, for whatever reason, you’re not going to make it.

Best is to create the place and time that is right for you. I think what I’m trying to say is this: a good production starts with a good script. A gimmick for the sake of a gimmick is ultimately only necessary to distract from the fact that your story isn’t up to scratch. A good story can be told anywhere, anytime and with very little. I happen to be a good storyteller, on stage and on paper, and I have my mom, my environment and Lymari (Alberts, our September Artist ) to thank for that.


3. Where did you train?
I received my formal training from the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of the Free State. I learnt many valuable lessons there, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve forgotten most of them. I still train, though. Every discussion I have with another dramatist, every play I see, every book I read, every word I write and end up deleting, every time I have an argument with Lymari Alberts about the true definition of “Theatre,” all of it counts toward my training.


4. What is your favourite style of theatre? Why?
I’m an avant-garde kind of guy. I enjoy something groundbreaking. I love it when the cast and crew say “we have no idea how this is going to work, but let’s see what happens.” That’s the way forward, I think.

The classic styles have a time and a place, but I’m not really one for nostalgia. Experimenting with any art form is my ideal theatre. But do it with humility. There’s nothing worse than a director telling you about the academic process.




5. What was the best show you EVER saw?
I have loads of favourites, but the one that stands out most is an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Equus I saw when I was about 16. It’s not that it was the best play I have ever seen. It was just that, while I was sitting in the auditorium, I was convinced that this is what I am going to do with my life.


6. What was the best show in HK you ever saw?
I have two. But I was in them, so they probably don’t count. I know it sounds a little harsh, but the shows I have seen in HK were international acts and while they were great fun, they’re not the local theatre I am looking for.


7. What piece of work are you the proudest of?

Lungs. In fact, I wouldn’t even have to be in it to be proud of it. It’s plain, it’s simple, it speaks a language everyone understands. This play has come a long way, from South Africa to Hong Kong, and I am very happy to have been a part of it. The small group of people who brought this thing to life are some of the smartest people I have worked with.


8. What is your process like?
“Learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.”


9. What is your dream project?

One day, many years from now, they will do a reboot of the original Star Wars movies. I want to be
Darth Vader. I’m not asking for too much, am I?


10. What do you think about the arts and theatre scene in Hong Kong?
It’s there. It exists. And it’s thriving. But I am afraid that an amateur theatre mentality will mean a
decline in high-quality art and performances for the sake of experience and recognition. When this
happens, audiences will rely on international acts for entertainment. If you are any kind of self-respecting
artist, don’t give your work away for free.


Make sure to catch Jan in action this week! Dial "M" For Murder opens tonight and runs until Sunday night. For more information, click here


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