Lockdown Missive: Joalette de Villiers

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’, inspired by the guys at Pocket Size Theatre. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today, we have Joalette de Villiers, actress and drama/special education teacher. Joalette starred in Desiree Kahikopo’s The White Line (2019), Tim Heubschle’s #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (2019), including various stage productions like Kubbe Rispel’s Deur Die Tralies Van My Hok (2017), Nelago Shilongoh’s Broken Butterflies (2012) and her The Story of Red. De Villiers won Best Actress at the 2012 Namibia Theatre and Film Awards for her performance in The Story of Red. She also directed The Zoo Story (2011) by Edward Elbee and The Maids (2012) by Jean Genet, which got a nomination for Best Newcomer Director.

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Joalette de Villiers (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I was quite excited. It felt so surreal, like it was an Apocalyptic movie or something. I must confess I did panic buy at first (but not toilet paper), and I was chosen as the tribune in my family, to do all the driving and grocery runs. But now, I’m way chilled. I buy like a sane person now.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

Well, I am an extrovert and I need to see people and have interaction, so that part has been tough, and I did allow myself to be sad about it. I would just call a friend and just to hear a different voice, apart from the ones in my head, felt much better.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

My phone, Zoom and Skype accounts have been thoroughly abused, but as of now, I am coping well with productivity. Necessity is the Mother of all invention, so I found ways to keep myself occupied. (Crochet, learning to play my guitar, doing most of the cooking and laughing my ass off at peoples TikTok videos. We really have very creative people here in Namibia! But If I don’t feel like being productive, I chill: Sleep, eat and watch TV.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

Laughter has been a good coping method for me, and obviously a big deal of imagination. So, I really make up the most ridiculous funny stories/scenarios in my head (a lot of daydreaming). And keeping busy, even with the most mundane of tasks, but the thing is, if you really feel that you are having a bad day mentally, have it. Be sad, be angry, be annoyed. There is absolutely no use in forcing your mind to be positive the whole time. These are extraordinary unusual circumstances. Just be free to feel what you need to feel. We really are in this together. So, in my own version, to quote William Wallace from Braveheart (1995): “They might take my freedom, but they will never take my sense of humor.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

Well, as far as I know, there is not a lot that we can do. Tim Heubschle has created a platform on Facebook called Lockdown Cinema Namibia, where we can watch Namibian movies, support that. Go to your artists social media pages and support what they are putting out there. Give a kind word of encouragement, that always helps. For the rest of the artist, put your work on social media, use this time to get your creative juices flowing, that when this thing blows over, and it will, you can come out with a bang. And everyone else needs to support them by going to every show, exhibition, performance, etc.! Just go support wherever you can. P.S: Anyone can DM me if they need food, I will gladly assist where I can.

During lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider!’ readers?

Watch TikTok videos, they are hilarious! Take up meditation, it really helps to calm the soul. I started watching Sex and the City reruns (Yes, I’ve never watched it before), that’s quite a laugh. And I downloaded myself a Texas Holdem Poker app and a Word Search app. That’s very nice to keep you busy.  Movies I can recommend is the Elton John biopic Rocketman (2019) and the Ted Bundy movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) and if you haven’t watched HBO’s 5-part series Chernobyl, watch it! It’s absolutely brilliant. I’m not reading any books now, except my Bible, it gives me peace and guidance.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

That’s a no brainer. A drink at the Brewers Market and seeing my friends. And seeing my kids at Integrate Sensory Centre. The saddest part of this all is the kids that don’t always understand why they can’t see their friends and teachers. And as a part-time teacher, I miss my kids and colleagues!

Lastly, since being silly once in a while doesn’t hurt, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

Penguin: (Singing) Coroooona…..Corooooona…. (sways lightly, while taking a sip from his Corona beer. Starts looking around) This isn’t where I parked my car. (hick-ups, backing out).

Me: (In the voice of Rose from Titanic) Come back, Come back….. Los net vir my die bier!!!! (Sobs silently).