Breathing Space

Michelle Douglas, Alan Farber, Justus de Jager

This year, 2020, marks the centenary anniversary of the passing of Olive Schreiner (died 11 Dec 1920), and Breathing Space celebrates the life of this great ‘daughter of South Africa’ through the lens of excerpts of her own writing, mainly through her letters. Suffering from severe asthma, Olive Schreiner spent much of her life as a ‘wandering Jew’ in the elusive search for a place where she could, literally and figuratively, breathe more easily. She knew all too well the plight of the displaced, the homeless and the outcast. Deeply moved by the suffering of others, this remarkable visionary, mystic, prophet, activist, social and political reformer ‘wrote with her blood’ and fought the fight of the marginalised. Her quest was not merely one of finding personal ‘breathing space’ but one of finding breathing space for all. Exploring Olive’s life mainly through her correspondence and journals, Breathing Space delves deeper and gives a glimpse into the greater complexities and subtleties of this woman who was ahead of her time. Brought to you by the producers of The Revlon Girl this debut original production stars Natasha Sutherland, Michelle Douglas and newcomer Lauren Urmson.

  • Genre: Film, Theatre
  • Format: Video
  • Duration: 1hr 25mins
  • Language: English
  • Ages: 14+
  • Available From: June 27, 2020
Content no longer available.


Natasha Sutherland as Rebekah Schreiner
Michelle Douglas as Olive Schreiner
Lauren Urmson as the young Olive Schreiner

Director: Alan Farber
Theatre Director: Michelle Douglas
Writer: Michelle Douglas
Director of Photography: Justus de Jager
Editor and Sound: Bevan Visser
Production Manager/Stage Manager/Art Department: Loren Nel
Make up: Sigrid Shaw
Make up Assistant / Runner: Carmen Gerber
Production Assistant Gavin Joffe

With special thanks to Dave Robinson, Debbie Joffe, Neil and Linda Urmson


Born in KZN, Natasha Sutherland has been in the South African creative industry for over twenty five years. Natasha started her acting career with NAPAC’s Musical Trilogy followed by two years at the Loft Repertory Theatre company. Subsequently she has worked for PACT, Pieter Torien Productions, Kickstart Productions, and Search For Productions. Her television credits include amongst others, M Net’s ‘Egoli’, ‘The Wild’, and currently etv’s ‘Scandal’. Most recently Natasha has been in the Market Theatre’s ‘Children’s Monologues’ directed by James Ngcobo, Theatre on the Square’s run of the ‘The Revlon Girl’ directed by Steven Feinstein, and Lesedi Job’s ‘Meet me at Dawn’, for which Natasha received a Naledi nomination for best actress. The 2019 Hilton Arts festival saw Natasha performing in the re runs of both ‘Revlon Girl’ as well as ‘Brutal Legacy’, a play she adapted from Tracy Going’s memoir. This year Natasha was half way through rehearsals for ‘Shirley Valentine’ for VRT, when the SA lockdown saw the close of the run. Because of the effect the lockdown’s had on the theatre industry, Natasha ‘s intrigued to be on this adventure of Virtual Theatre for NAF, and the experience of performing in Michelle Douglas’ ‘Breathing Space’.

Michelle Douglas‘ career in the arts started off with training at the then Pretoria Technikon. After working extensively in children’s theatre, Michelle moved overseas, working for an Italian Repertory Theatre Company at Il Teatro Colosseo, where she performed various roles under the direction of Paul Martignetti and Gaby Ford.. Returning to South Africa fifteen years ago, she has been involved in the South African Theatre and Film Industry since. Scripting and directing community theatre in Western Cape, Michelle has worked with township communities, trainint them and equipping them in the arts, as well as touring to Arts festivals in SA and Italy. Working in corporate theatre and television, she has worked in the film and television industry as an actor and voice artist. Her film and television credits include, among others, FC Hamman’s Ordinary People, Farewell Ella Bella directed by Lwazi Mvusi, Home Affairs, Soul City, Queen Sono, and most recently Bruce Lee’s Warrior Season 2. She has played diverse roles in theatre, both writing and acting in various productions under the direction of Clare Stopford, Steven Feinstein, and most recently Malcolm Purkey in Mike van Graan’s Green Man Flashing. Her last appearance at the National Arts Festival was in 2018 as Sian in the acclaimed The Revlon Girl by Neil Docking.

Lauren Urmson is a young actress and aspiring film maker. She has been involved in most aspects of the arts from a young age, and throughout her schooling career. She currently studies at AFDA in Johannesburg with a focus on writing and directing. This is her first role in a professional capacity.

Alan Farber has been involved in the industry for more than 25 years. He has worked on all manner of production from corporate to commercial to features (both big and small). He has also worked as an actor in 2003 and 2004.
Alan has been directing for the last 15 years. He is a scriptwriter/ copywriter and has written promos and commercials in terms of short form, as well as many corporates, comedy sketches, and long form drama scripting.
As a director Alan has worked on a number of different genres. His CV includes magazine shows, reality television, comedy sketches, music videos, commercials, corporate videos and children’s drama. Most of the projects he has been involved in, Alan has both conceptualised, created the formats and written the scripts for. Alan has most recently directed a feature film called ‘Voices of Faith’ which was set in Diepsloot. The production trained up a number of individuals in both the crew and cast and was able to effectively upskill the individuals.