The Beauty Of Incomplete Things

Following the success of Yes, Masseur, which was produced by Pieter-Dirk Uys and David and Renaye Kramer at the Dockroad Theatre in 1996, The Beauty Of Incomplete Things enjoyed great success when it was performed at The Intimate Theatre in Cape Town (2013/14), and at the Joburg Theatre (2014).

The Beauty of Incomplete Things enjoyed its world premiere at The Intimate Theatre, 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town on January 28, 2014, and ran until February 16, 2014, and its original cast, Rowan Studti, Wojtek Lipinski and Andre Lombard re-united with writer-director Daniel Dercksen for a successful season in Johannesburg at the Joburg Theatre from July 17 to August 1, 2014.

“Dercksen’s style of writing is as such very attractive. There is a very peronal lyricism to be found…The Beauty of Incomplete Things is worth seeing for its best parts, its lingering moments where quality and craftmanship is obvious.”Paul Boekkooi, The Star Tonight

“This remarkable play is about inter-relationships and the complexities that arise over time between people. The cast have fulfilled writer-director Daniel Dercksen’s wish in conveying a deeply human and quintessential story about the frailties of our love lives.” Jason Fiddler, Mamba-online

“Dercksen has a striking way with words. The Beauty of Incomplete Things is a powerful and poignant piece…despite its sombre darkness, it offers great moments of humour..” Genevieve Viera, The Citizen

“As an audience, Dercksen challenges us to observe the traumas of intimacy, both physical and emotional. To push open the barriers of our mind and how we perceive love, identity… As the play progresses, Dercksen’s characters expand from 2D to multifaceted, complex beings. The blurred lines between friendship, attraction, power and love are sensitively explored through the contorting relationships between the three men. It has soul. Pain, confusion, infatuation and rage pulse through the air with tangible force. ” Mahala reviewer Ella Grimwade

“Old wounds are ripped open and profound secrets are shared in Daniel Dercksen’s The Beauty of Incomplete Things. Through candour and insight, the production investigates what happens when escorts and their clients mix business with pleasure,as well as what happens when our dreams become bigger than our reality. Under Dercksen’s direction, all three actors deliver multifaceted performances. No character has one layer alone and watching each piece of skin being stripped away until only their fragile selves remain makes for captivating theatre.” Sunday Independent reviewer Steyn du Toit

The novelization of The Beauty Of Incomplete Things began in 2015 and was completed in January 2024 –  the novel is a fictional memoir inspired by the stageplays The Beauty of Incomplete Things, and Yes, Masseur.

When David, an obsessive middle-aged man falls hopelessly in love with Tommy, a masseur, tragedy forces them to seek refuge in a remote cabin in the Karoo.

“All the characters in this fictional memoir are based on people I’ve met on life’s journey, their names have been changed as I thought it rude to intrude upon private lives. Events have been spiced up for dramatic purposes as real-life is not always that exciting. The world of the story has also been coloured in with sharpened crayons. It’s a story that shows how love between two men are shaped by destiny. I apologise if you cannot find yourself in my story.” Daniel Dercksen

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your novel ‘The Beauty of Incomplete Things.’ It blew me away. Your style of writing flows with a superb lyricism. As one gets into your multifaceted characters and they begin to peel the layers away it becomes a real page turner as tension, pain, obsession, confusion and tangible rage fly off the page as three flawed souls try to make sense of the blurred lines between friendship, client, physical attraction and love and the trauma that comes when fantasy overtakes reality. As secrets are revealed, amidst the torment and rage there are also real moments of humour and pathos.
Although it deals with a world I know very little about your poignant portrayal of inter-relationships and how the past can affect us both in our approach to our sexuality and our emotional needs applies to us all. Especially how we take past hurts and insecurities forward into our relationships.” Sandy Baker / Word Craft / Silver Moon Media Videographers

“I loved the book. It is a story most people can relate to – of love unreturned despite all your gallant efforts. The trauma and sadness carried by each of the characters is so close to home. We are all damaged in one way or another – some more than others. We should never intentionally destroy another life and should instead work to uplift those that need it most. Behind many a smile is a heart of sadness. Thank You for allowing me to read The Beauty of Incomplete Things.” Eleanor Momberg (Specialist Writer, DEFF and works for Department of Environment, South Africa and Freelance Journalist)

Rowan Studti as Tommy and Wojtek Lipinsky as David in the play The Beauty Of Incomplete Things

The Inspiration

For 15 years The Beauty of Incomplete Things went through a miraculous transformation, mutating into its final draft after countless rewrites, as well as six readings with actors throughout South Africa that helped shape its future.

Our first get-together at the Intimate Theatre in December 2013: At the back: Daniel Dercksen; front: Andre Lombard, Rowan Studti, and Wojtek Lipinski. © Daniel Dercksen

The Beauty of Incomplete Things is more than just a play, speaks to everyone, as its voice echoes the memories that feed our fantasies and the fears that prevent us from finding true happiness in a world that has lost control. On an emotional journey of love, wrath, and redemption, three men discover that there lies beauty in incomplete things.

It’s not an issue-play, but one that most definitely celebrates the frailty of humanity and digs deep into fractured relationships and the dark side of human nature. Despite its somber darkness, it also has some great humour, particularly when these three vibrant characters explode in a sea of raw emotions and kick into survival mode.

It explores creative expression and the freedom of expression at its most extreme, shows that everything in life does not have to be perfect to be conventionally acknowledged.

It is in the flawed lives of our fragile existence, lost loves, and lonely survival, that the true beauty of our humanity surfaces.

The Beauty of Incomplete Things enjoyed its world premiere at The Intimate Theatre, 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town on January 28, 2014 and ran until February 16, 2014, and its original cast, Rowan Studti, Wojtek Lipinski and Andre Lombard re-united with writer-director Daniel Dercksen for a successful season in Johannesburg at the Joburg Theatre from July 17 to August 1, 2014.

Rowan Studti as Tommy in the play The Beauty Of Incomplete Things

“All three characters have dark alter egos from their tainted past, destroying the fantasy of their reality; this really challenges the actors to the extreme and will hopefully provoke the imagination of theatergoers. I wanted to create a conversation between the audience and the play. This active voyeurism will hopefully sparks an emotional and visceral engagement, and give audiences an opportunity to experience theatre in an extraordinary way. The Beauty of Incomplete Things speaks to everyone, as its voice echoes the memories that feed our fantasies, and the fears that prevent us from finding true happiness in world that has lost control.” Daniel Dercksen

Rowan Studti (Tommy) has pursued acting from the young age of six. His inclination to the craft of acting is intuitive and originates from a desire to reflect human behavior and interaction. He states, “acting is the only way I can reflect life back onto the audience as life moves too fast to take notice of what is really going on beneath the public persona…as I search for the character within myself I strive to reveal a part of who I truly am through letting the audience in … I am only acting if I am solely listening to the other actor, the given circumstances, and responding to my natural impulses, here is where the character and a truthful performance are born.”

Playing Tommy: The Beauty of Incomplete Things deals with a subject matter, and a world, of which I hardly know much, and the character of Tommy seems far removed from my own day-to-day world.  It is a matter of stepping out of my comfort zone.  It is this very reason that draws me towards the story.  The very fact that a sense of fear comes over me in approaching the character and the work, is the exact reason why I chose not to shy away from it.   It is these kind of characters that makes one grow as an actor.  The psychology of the play and Tommy, is incredibly complex, which requires one to delve deep into oneself, become and exist honestly on the stage.  The challenge presents itself as big boots to full, but I am looking forward to being stretched. 

Rowan made his debut in a high school production of Footloose, which affirmed his choice to follow acting as his chosen career. He studied at the New York Film Academy and at the Actors’ Centre in San Francisco in 2008. Thereafter he enrolled at ACT Cape Town and graduated with a BA in Drama, Film, and Screenwriting from the University of Cape Town. It was at ACT that Rowan played the role of a hedonistic cowboy/rock star in Nicola Hanekom’s Tol(l). and he played in Chris Wear’s production of An Absolute Turkey. Rowan has also had a number of experiences working in film and television, working on a number of short films.  He had his television debut this year on an episode of Locked Up Abroad”, a crime investigation show on National Geographic, and will be seen as a Special Task Force Member in the upcoming South African TV series The Message. 

Wojtek Lipinski  (David) is a professional young artist who has recently entered the industry as a freelance actor. Wojtek started his career by doing school plays and also worked for an Artreach programme that did Shakespearean plays in order to raise funds for feeding the hungry. This made him decide to pursue a career in acting even though he never did drama as a subject or any specific training in this field. He decided to study drama at the University of Stellenbosch and obtained a high degree of training in voice, acting, and physical training. He starred in many theatre productions at the University’s H.B Thom Theatre through directors like Mareli Pretorius’s Charlotte’s Web, Antoinette Kellerman’s Baby and the Bath Water, Peter Krummick’s Brothers and Marthinus Basson’s reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet. He graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a BDrama Degree in 2012 with exceptional results, experience, and skills. Now as a freelance actor in the industry, he has recently done four international commercials, played an extra in the TV series Black Sails, and was part of the production the Unexpected Man.

On playing David: The Beauty of Incomplete Things is a play that shows a fractured relationship between three men. The vulnerability of how they can’t cope with their own insecurities in their relationships at the present moment due to certain circumstances that come from their past situations. This creates a beauty of taking for granted the small incomplete things in life which binds and enhances relationships in people’s lives. The character of David is a person who just loves himself too much which destroys the type of relationship he wants in his life. He is a character who the audience will love and hate all at the same time because he is a person who loves being “too much of a good thing [which] is good” (Liberace in Behind the Candelabra). 

Andre Lombard (Steve) He graduated with a BA(Drama) Hons from the University of Pretoria during which time he was awarded the Don Lamprecht Award for best student actor. After finishing his studies he was offered a full-time contract at the then PACOFS where acted in a wide variety of plays, children’s programs and musicals. He received a Vita Award for Best Production: Môre is ‘n Lang Dag and a Dalro award for his role in Somewhere on the Border. After he completed his military service in the SAAF he returned to freelance acting, appearing in various stage and TV productions and films. He also did dubbing and dubbing translations for the SABC. His voice work during this time included that of Wielie Walie’s “Sarel Seemonster”. Life’s footpath then led him into the financial industry, where he earned the title of Executive Healthcare Consultant, before moving to Hermanus where he got involved in various development theatre projects; directing, amongst others, Whale Music for the Whale Festival. When he moved to Cape Town, he was asked to teach as a substitute for two weeks at Constantia Waldorf School. He started out with two weeks and stayed for seven years teaching Dramatic Arts and English. He appeared in the short film Windstil and Urban Death at the Intimate Theatre and the upcoming Tannie dora goes Bos.

On playing Steve: Preparing for the role is challenging. I have to dig deep into my own being to find feelings and emotions analogous to Lawrence’s character. But this is the adventure I embarked upon when I accepted the role and I find the process of discovering Lawrence, for the human being he is and getting under his skin, challenging and exciting at the same time.

Ending the season at the Joburg Theatre: Wojtek Lipinski, Rowan Studti, and Andre Lombard with Daniel Dercksen