Cape Argus Article – Partially blind actor blazes his own trail

Cape Town – He has scant vision, but 21-year old Tomley van Vuuren can already see a bright future for himself as an actor.

Partially blind Van Vuuren, former student of the Pioneer School for the blind in Worcester, is super excited as he has been cast as the disciple Peter in the stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar coming to the Baxter next month.

Van Vuuren studies drama and arts performance at Northlink College after he won a scholarship of R72 000 in a competition run by the college.

“When I am on stage I feel comfortable, complete and content, but when I am in a public space I sometimes feel lost. Playing Peter is remarkable, interesting and lots of hard work. Acting is my first love and I do not let my partial blindness determine my future, as I would like to portray a character in one of the top South African productions. My heart is in theatre and I love portraying Peter. I want nothing else but to excel in my gift.”

Kobus Hanekom, drama and performing arts lecturer at Northlink, said he first met Tomley at the Woordfees in Stellenbosch playing the boy in Fiela se Kind.

“I was taken away by the boy’s talent, and a year later I had the privilege of being introduced and to work with the student. He is exceptional and good in his academics and his craft as artist. The college has given Tomley a computer to use in my office, which allows him to view anything that has to do with his studies,” said Hanekom, who is also the director of the play.

“He can portray any acting role and excel, like any normal person would do. For the past nine months working with Tomley has been a privilege and honour as he is extraordinary in my department.”

Amber Gederbloem, 19, who plays Mary said working with Tomley “is such an inspiration and motivation as he is always professional and I sometimes forget that he is partially blind, especially when we are on stage. He is a natural on stage.”

His friend Branden Kapel,19, described Tomley as a professional person who lets nothing pass him in class in whatever he is doing and he does not let his partial blindness get the better of him.”

Tomley said his dream is to one day act and direct soapies like 7de Laan or Isindingo. For now, he is focused on his studies because he believes that education is the key that will open the door to opportunities. “I know that I am partially blind, but I want to be a motivator and the best person that I can be for my family and my future.”

Jesus Christ Superstar will run at the Baxter Theatre on October 24 and 25. It is directed by Kobus Hanekom and stars Tomley van Vuuren, Lukhanyo Wagqoyi, Branden Kapel and Amber Gelderbloem.