(Featured Image by Ashande Photography)
Keith Vries made his theatrical debut almost four months ago and he intends to stay. After what was an exciting experience for him, Keith was assaulted at Chopsi’s Bar. I caught up with Keith to talk the aftermath of that HOMOPHOBIC attack and his journey forward:
It has almost been 3 months since the incident at Chopsi’s, how are you doing?
Besides the migraines that come and go, my physical health is almost back to where it was before the incident. On an emotional and psychological level it remains difficult to live through a deeply patriarchal and abusively misogynistic society that hunts minorities for fun. This was not the first time that a man thought it his place to assault me; it’s just the time where it was recorded. Constantly being attacked takes an emotional toll, and the trauma caused can take years to unpack and heal from, but I am resilient and there’s no doubt that these scars will heal with time, wine and therapy.
What happened afterwards, did you go legal or…?
A lot of things happened afterwards as all of you saw, and rest assured that a lot more is on its way. On the legal front, yes, there is a ongoing case that I cannot comment on any further as instructed by legal council, but do stay tuned, there is still much reckoning to be done.
Have you been back at the bar/are you planning on going back anytime there soon?
There was a rumour that my friends and I been back to that bar, and it started on twitter, when a former-ally tweeted misinformation and the fake news spread like wildfire across the Twittersphere. WE HAVE NOT BEEN BACK THERE AND HAVE NO INTENTION OF EVER GOING BACK! Of all the misinformation that was created & spread in gossip circles, the grapevine and Twitter about me, this one was the most ridiculous. Anyone who is even slightly acquainted with my character will know that I am not that weak, spineless or petty; I stand for someone.
How has the support from family and friends been?
The people in my life have always been the cream of the crop, top of the shelf, ‘topper-as top.’ Every single one of the people whom I have called friend or family came through, and the trifling c*nts that decided to look the other way may join the long list of gatekeepers who have their blood on our hands as these men murder us in marathons of violence.
Are you still angry?
Of course, I am still vehemently pissed off! I don’t take any kind of abuse or violation lightly. Violence in Namibia needs to be addressed with a determined seriousness. LGBTQI+ folk are being murdered and violated alongside our cisgender sisters as we speak, all because these men can’t contextualize their masculinity and get their damn hands off our bodies.
What kept you going?
James Baldwin said that its a revolutionary act when black people keep ‘self-care rituals’ in their arsenal of things they use to survive a society in which they are born hate-crimes. Washing your face the day after an assault, making sure your teeth are brushed nonetheless, drinking a glass of water, applying lotion on your entire body and liking yourself, are just some of the things that keep your life together especially when it’s falling apart. Self-care is key, that’s why I’m still standing.
Acting in Ashwyn Mberi’s ‘Tales of Roses in Concrete’ was your first time on stage. How was that experience like?
It felt right, natural. I have always wanted to try acting based of how good I am at imitating other people and how famous and rich you get from playing someone else in a movie. Also, I love Charlize Theron and see her level of craftwomanship as a benchmark to use for reaching and gaining excellence and notoriety in the actors world. After I watched her play Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003), somehow I knew that I could bring that kind of intensity and seriousness to the big screen, and I intend to stay, come hell or high water; dont look away now.
How was it like working with Ashwyn?
It’s always a pleasure. He is deeply passionate about black people and the arts, and the man doesn’t sleep on his hustle. Ashwyn understands that you win by doing, and that is a trait that a lot of industry professionals in Namibia sorely lack. We all have something to learn from Ashwyn, and I’m seated and ready to take notes. I hope everyone else is too.
Do you have formal training as an actor?
If you consider being dramatic-as-hell as formal training for acting then, yes I do. In so far as going to classes and being taught how to do it is concerned, no, that hasn’t happened, yet. Besides, I have been on stage as a performance poet, debater and MC over the last 8 years, so I am not afraid of the stage or performing for large crowds. In fact I thrive off the feeling of being vulnerable in front of other people and showing them all my best sides. Like the great Mother Lady Gaga said, “baby, I was born this way.”
You also write, have you considered writing for film or theatre?
Yes I have considered writing for the theatre, and my sister, Senga Brockerhoff has been on my case for the last couple of months since ‘Tales of Roses In Concrete’ to write a one-man play, but that is yet to materialize. This year I am working on ‘being a writer that writes’ and so far so good, but no play or film yet, that is still pending. I want to combine my deep rooted love for Adele with my love for writing and creating crazy plots. Since people have been asking me for a novel for years now, this year I plan to give the people what they want.