23 February 2021
Pallance Dladla on searching for the truth in DAM
In DAM, the Showmax Original thriller series (all eight episodes are now streaming), Yolanda Fischer, played by Lea Vivier, returns to the small farming town of her childhood to bury her father. She finds out that she’s inherited the farmhouse where she and her sister grew up, but being at home soon starts to wear her down.
After her father’s funeral, she meets the charming biker Themba, played by Pallance Dladla, at the local bar. 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.
The star of Isibaya shares what it was like to film on location in the Eastern Cape with the rest of the all-star ensemble cast, and how the hard lockdowns of 2020 inspired his performance.
Themba’s love story
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 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.
Why South Africans should watch DAM
What’s great about this genre 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.
The best part about shooting DAM
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.
On how Covid affected the shoot
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.
His relationship with the rest of the all-star cast
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.