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Lovers, Dogs and Rainbows

Lovers, Dogs and Rainbows is a documentary film and performance project about heritage and identity. Born and raised in Calvinia, South Africa, Rudi van der Merwe now lives in the ‘City of Calvin’ (Geneva), Switzerland. Seeking to place his personal history within a larger socio-political context, the project is an attempt to take stock of the good, the bad and the ugly of his upbringing and what remains of it twenty years down the line by revisiting the people and places of his youth.

The drag character I have developed for this is called Rosie van Doorn, the name itself is a play on words with the Afrikaans version of the fairy-tale character Sleeping Beauty (‘Doringrosie’). The name also suggests a rose with thorns. My very first appearance on stage was in drag.

Placed on stage as a mise en abyme, the character of Rosie van Doorn is an allegory for political, sexual, social and other awakening. The video footage brings an element of reality as opposed to the ‘realness’ on stage and vice versa.

Length : 55 min


  • Conception : Rudi van der Merwe

  • Performance : József Trefeli, Rudi van der Merwe

  • Costume : Kata Tóth, Rudi van der Merwe

  • Video : Erika Irmler, Floreanne Schneuwly, Rudi van der Merwe

  • Administration : Pâquis Production – Laure Chapel

  • Production : SkreeWolf

  • Co-production : ADC de Genève, théâtre du Grütli



  • 25-27 March 2019, KKNK festival, Oudtshoorn (ZA)

  • 6 April 2019, Dance Umbrella Africa, Pretoria (ZA)

  • 11 April 2019, ICA, Cape Town (ZA)

  • 27 April 2019, My Body My Space festival, Machadodorp (ZA)

  • 21 September 2019, Constellations, Toulon (FR)

  • 5 October 2019, FIT festival, Lugano

  • 16-19 October 2019, Grütli theatre, Geneva

  • 4-5 February 2021, Swiss Dance Days, Basel

  • 12 February 2021, Genre de festival, Gindou (FR)

  • 18-19 February 2021, Usine à Gaz, Nyon

  • 7 May 2023, Lecite Visioni, Milan (IT)

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