“No one ever talks about the moment you found that you were white. Or the moment you found out you were black. That’s a profound revelation. The minute you find that out, something happens. You have to renegotiate everything.”
Bo Petersen is a professional South African actress, currently living in the United States.
“Pieces of Me” is an autobiographical play that exposes the devastating emotional cost of living secretly as a mixed-race family under the vicious racist apartheid regime and the legacy it bore.
Her father Benjamin Johannes Petersen, also known as Benny, made a fateful decision in 1944 that would change his life forever. Until then, he and his close-knit family were classified by the South African Government as “Colored”. A Colored person was a person of mixed European (“white”) and African (“black”) or Asian ancestry, as officially defined by the South African government from 1950 to 1991. After meeting and falling in love with Bo’s mother, who was white, he decided to pass as white. They had 5 children and were happily married for 62 years. They lived as a white family. He never told his wife or any of his children about his true identity. It was a secret that, if uncovered, would have had dire consequences for all of them. Benny could have faced 10 years imprisonment, his marriage would have been annulled and his children taken away, reclassified and made wards of the State. “Pieces of Me” explores how her father’s torturous decision to pass as white has shaped Bo’s life. It captures universal themes of exclusion, threat and silences experienced by marginalized people throughout the world.
This is Bo’s renegotiation
The South African Ambassador Kotze graciously hosted a reading of “Pieces of Me” at the SA Embassy in Oslo last year. In January this year Bo performed at Theatre Arts in Cape Town with talkbacks facilitated by the renowned academic, Professor Jonathan Jansen (https://www.jonathanjansen.org/).
Bo has been invited to The Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo in September 2023, and in 2024 will be returning to South Africa to undertake a tour of university campuses and schools.
She has consulted with a young South African director Keenan Tyler Oliphant, who is based in New York City and who has achieved considerable success (https://www.keenantyleroliphant.com).
Bo Petersen has worked as a professional actor in South Africa for more than 40 years, working on stage, TV and film.
She has also made a name for herself as a director.
She has a deep commitment to nurturing and developing original South African theatre working with undiscovered talent and well-established actors. Her own acting trajectory has been firmly based in innovative and challenging productions.
She has established a successful supplementary career as a dialogue and drama coach for the feature film and advertising industry, working with the likes of Sidney Poitier, Michael Caine, Ryan Reynolds, William Hurt and others.
Bo currently resides in the USA where she continues to write and perform.
Directed by Cliff A. Moustache
Olve Flakne (Guitar/Bass/Piano)
Bafana Nhlapo (Percussion)