A world of make believe

Having started her acting career in Canada, Frances-Jane Van Wyk is now the new production coordinator for the National Theatre of Namibia.

08 February 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Justicia Shipena

Frances-Jane Van Wyk was appointed as the new production coordinator for the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) on 1 February.

Van Wyk works closely with the artistic director to produce quality shows for the theatre. Her roles also include programming and facilitating productions at the theatre and coordinating with all departments to make sure everything is running smoothly.

She attended her post-secondary education in Vancouver, Canada.

She holds an associate of arts degree in theatre and psychology, which she obtained at Douglas College in New Westminster.

Van Wyk also obtained diplomas in acting for film, television, theatre and voice-over from Douglas College and the Vancouver Acting School.

She told Careers that her training as an actor was always the key and she believes you never stop learning, and as an actor you should keep training. Hence, she trained professionally at Railtown Actors Studio in Vancouver until she moved back to Namibia in 2018.

“Psychology was a passion I picked up due to my support of mental health awareness and the need for more knowledge. As it turns out psychology is a great partner to have in the arts, especially acting,” she said.

She added that in acting you deal with your own emotions and your character’s emotions, your experiences and creating your character’s experiences, and having knowledge in psychology is an asset.

Before she joined NTN she was the store lead at the Children’s Place in Canada, as well as the front of house manager at Railtown Actors Studio.

Van Wyk said she has had many career highs as an actor and there is nothing like the feeling of being emotionally available for your character and scene partner.

She added one of the top highlights of her career happened in 2017 when she played Scarlett in the play ‘Lion in the Streets’ by Canadian playwright Judith Thompson.

“Scarlett was a young woman with advanced cerebral palsy, she was confined to a chair and very emotionally scarred due to her disability and insecurities brought on by the way others have treated her,” she said.

Van Wyk said although she was in the chair for most of her time on stage, she never felt freer as an actor. Scarlett allowed her to release emotions she didn’t realise she had or could produce. She said because of Scarlett’s very laissez-faire attitude she wasn’t constricted, despite being in a wheelchair.

“I learned how to be a commanding presence by just sitting and being present. She taught me power and how to use my voice and body to convey that power in stillness. My biggest lesson I learned from Scarlett, however, was compassion for others and their vulnerabilities,” she said.

Van Wyk told Careers that she has not faced any challenges at NTN as yet. However, should a challenge come her way she will face it head-on and handle it with patience, an open mind and with a sensitivity to others’ perspectives and their emotions.

She hopes to use her knowledge to produce quality work that all Namibians can enjoy as well as participate in. She also hopes to learn from her peers in the arts and hopes they can learn something from her.

“The theatre and the arts have a soft spot in my heart, I hope to see that passion realised in others through the work I produce,” she said.

Besides being in the office she spends time with her family and friends as they are her support system and have groomed her into the woman she is today. She enjoys kickboxing and yoga. To increase her creatively she reads, writes and paints.

“I’m a firm believer in engaging your creativity, no matter your skillset; it helps you open your mind and allows for different perspectives. Due to mental health awareness, my free time is spent taking care of myself mentally and physically, and being there for family and friends,” she added.

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