Interview: Pallance Dladla on his role as Themba in DAM
In DAM, the Showmax Original thriller series (binge-watch all eight episodes here), Lea Vivier stars as Yola Fischer, a young woman who returns to the Eastern Cape farming town of her childhood to bury her father. She finds out that she’s inherited the house where she and her sister grew up, but being at home soon starts to wear her down – especially when spirits in the house seem to be tormenting her. Or is it all in her head?
After her father’s funeral, Yola meets Isibaya star Pallance Dladla’s charming biker, Themba. As time goes on, it becomes clear that Yola and Themba need to lean on each other to survive the threats that the town poses to them the longer they stay, while they fight the pull of their pasts.
Read on to hear about Pallance’s experience of filming on location in the Bedford area of the Eastern Cape, his relationship with the rest of the all-star cast, and how he related to his character.
Themba and Yola’s relationship
Yola signifies the truth in DAM. So Themba gravitates towards her because he too is in search of some sort of truth, and only through Yolanda can it be figured out. It becomes very clear that he needs her.
Themba, like Yola, just wanted to leave the town. He’s been searching for something over the rainbow, thinking the grass is greener, but what he really needs is to stop running. To stop running from himself, to be still and listen, to find his acceptance and hope and home within himself.
Themba and Yola find themselves through each other.
Working with The Day We Didn’t Meet star Lea Vivier
Lea’s a great leader. That’s what you need for a lead character. She leads with grace and by example – she works really hard and is very sweet about everything.
His favourite thing about the shoot
Getting to watch the work of one of my favourite actors, Neil Sandilands, was amazing. I loved seeing other people’s processes and how they work, from Lea to Faniswa [Yisa] to Siv [Ngesi] – just seeing how everyone has this special gift they have harnessed.
And seeing how Alex can evoke certain qualities out of you that your character needs, that will make your role serve the story. I’ll forever be a student of the game, because there is just so much to learn.
The effect of shooting during the Covid pandemic
It was difficult, but the production team made sure that all Covid protocols were adhered to. Especially during the scenes that required touching – we had to make sure that we were quarantined. Everyone who went to shoot on set was tested.
I used the energy of being separated from my family [during lockdown] to harness the character that I play on DAM, being nurtured and having a tribe, just like Themba. The lockdown was difficult personally but added a deeper layer to my work. It created a sense of the bond I shared with the rest of the cast.
The way the cast worked together
We were all in sync and had the same vision. You can have a great script and production team, but if the people are not in sync you won’t be able to pull through and produce something spectacular.
Why South Africans should watch DAM
What’s great about this genre [thriller] is how it takes the internal battle of the human spirit and mirrors that in the world. This genre for me is a door that got opened for us to explore and tell stories differently here.
I love how Alex [Yazbek] has directed this, and what Tom [Marais] has done with the language of the camera. We shouldn’t second-guess ourselves about being able to tell our stories globally, because we are on that standard. Anyone who gets a chance to watch this outside the country will be amazed, and anyone in the country will be inspired.