Meet Gordon and Helene: The Real South Afreakins

Gordon and Helene Paterson spent their first few years as a young family with their children Ross and Robyn, on the campus of Michaelhouse, a renowned boys boarding school known for its sporting excellence, situated in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area outside Pietermaritzburg. From 1976-1988, Gordon was their prominent rugby coach and physical education and geography teacher while Helene was a tutor at Nottingham Road Primary School a few miles away. 

In 1989, they left Michaelhouse and moved to Somerset West, a small town just outside of Cape Town with Ross aged three and Robyn aged eighteen months. Here, Gordon took a position as lecturer in the Department of Human Movement Studies at University of Stellenbosch and Helene worked as a tutor. 

After visiting New Zealand in 1970 as a 17 year old Rotary exchange student, Gordon had dreamed of returning to the country that boasted the same passion for rugby as he had and yet held none of the civil unrest or danger that South Africa imposed upon it’s people in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. 

It was a time where Nelson Mandela was moving into power with the ANC and no-one was sure what change a black president would bring to a country already so fraught with racial tension. So in 1994, when Gordon was offered a job in New Zealand, they felt it was time to make the move. 

Gordon and Helene Paterson immigrated to New Zealand in March 1994 with Ross, aged nine and Robyn, aged six. They moved to Hamilton, a city in the north island of New Zealand. Gordon took a position as a tutor in Sports Coaching at the Waikato Polytechnic before progressing to the Head of Department and then later, the Dean of Faculty, Business and Technology while Helene became an assessor with SPELD NZ, (Specific Learning Difficulties New Zealand). 

New Zealand gave them everything they were after. Good schools, friendly citizens and their children were able to play outside safely. The differences were noticeable. Yet somehow, even as 25 years passed, it never quite became home even when they looked out their windows at the calm, quiet streets. Their jokes didn’t receive the amount of laughs from their kiwi friends or weren’t understood. The discipline of their children was criticised. They never cheered for the All Blacks. 


Their children adapted and adopted thick kiwi accents but they never quite felt swept away with the rhythms of their new country, instead feeling always slightly out of step. 

Yes, South Africa is dangerous, restless and broken but the country is theirs and they love it with a fierce patriotism in the way that your mother may not be perfect but she’s still your mother and only you are allowed to talk about her flaws but nobody else. 

In 2015, Gordon retired from his job as the CEO of Physical Education New Zealand and now lives a life of leisure, playing tennis with his best friend Clive and trout fishing with his other best friend Mike and running his own International Education Consultancy Company called AdRem International. Helene continues to work with children with learning difficulties and goes to ballet twice a week and has the best legs of any sixty five year old out there. 
They are excited to be immortalised in The South Afreakins, written and performed by their daughter Robyn although they can’t quite shake the feeling that they’re being made fun of. 

Which they are, a little. 

But in the nicest possible way.  


Gordon and Helene Paterson



Cast and Crew

Robyn Paterson

Actress/Writer/Company Founder


South African born actress Robyn Paterson has been a professional playwright and actress for over 14 years in theatre, film and television in Australia, New Zealand and London.  
She has been writing theatre since 2009 when her first one-woman show Introducing Anna had a sell out season at Auckland's Basement Theatre in New Zealand in 2010.


After The South Afreakins debuted and sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and awarded 'The Best Monologue at the Fringe', she has performed and sold out at the London VAULT Festival as well as The Creative Waikato Space, The Meteor Theatre, The Basement Theatre and The Hawke's Bay Arts Festival in New Zealand.


After a very successful run at the Space Theatre in London, February 2019 and Southland Arts Festival in New Zealand, May 2019, Robyn and Executive producer Xiomara Meyer are preparing for their six week tour of New Zealand in October and November 2019. 


Robyn is focusing on a return season to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 with The South Afreakins and the world premiere of 

The South Afreakins 2: The Freakin' Family. 

Xiomara Meyer         

Executive Producer


Xiomara Meyer is a Mexican-born German actress, writer, and producer. 

In 2016, she graduated from Kingston University London with a bachelors degree in Drama with Creative Writing. 


She joined Impi Theatre Company in 2016 and in 2018 she co-founded Hitting Heads Productions, focusing on the production of theatre and short films(for now). 


Currently she works as executive producer for The Impi Theatre Company, as well as working on her own play "The Struggling Life of an Artist". 


Edinburgh Fringe Festival '19

Yasemin Gava


Born in Italy, Yasemin Gava joined her local theatre company at the age of fourteen, with whom she toured the north of Italy in various productions such as Arsenic and Old Lace. She moved to the UK in 2014 to further her acting training and was involved in several short films and theatre productions, including Suckerpunch (2016) during the Camden Fringe Festival and Distance (2016) at the International Youth Arts Festival. In 2016 she co-founded her own theatre and arts company, Performing Change, to raise awareness on human rights issues through entertainment, and took on the role of writer and director, as well as that of an actress. The company won Amnesty International’s 2016 Marsh award and toured three festivals, including Edinburgh Fringe in 2017. Yasemin graduated in 2017 from Kingston University with a BA in Drama and Human Rights and was awarded The Human Rights prize for her humanitarian work in theatre. At present she is working as a producer for Impi Theatre Company, as well working in London as an actress and artist.

Leila Sebatti


Leila has recently graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London with a degree in Film and Television Production, where she has found a desire to produce theatrical content. This is her first producing role and first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

Phoebe Stringer

Producer & Social Media 

Phoebe is an actress, writer and producer and currently in her second year studying Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway University. She joined Impi theatre in 2019 and will be working for the company as a co producer. She founded Slice Of Lemon Productions in 2018, which works specifically on giving those with learning difficulties a platform to share their own experiences.

Holly Atkinson


Holly moved to London three years ago for university and fell in love with the urban lifestyle. During her degree, Holly worked as a creative producer for The Globe Theatre and The South Bank Collective Agency. After graduating from LSBU with a First in Drama and Performance Holly has spent most of her time binging Netflix and figuring out how to make kale taste nice. When she’s not addressing these pressing matters, Holly’s main interests lie in acting, new writing and comedy. Currently she is working as The Front of House manager at Southwark Playhouse alongside training in the Meisner acting technique and learning how to produce theatre, on the job!

Liberty Gerrard-Pickering

Producer & ​Tech Operator

Liberty Gerarrd-Pickering is in her final year at Royal Holloway University studying BA Film, Television and Digital Production. She grew surrounded by the theatre in Stratford Upon-Avon and so is incredibly excited to join the team and operate for The South Afreakins and The South Afreakins: The Afreakin Family and take the shows to the Edinburgh Fringe festival this year.

Tom Chaplin

Photographer & Videographer

Tom Chaplin is a freelance photographer, digital retoucher and tutor based in London. He recently graduated with a First Class BA(Hons) Degree in Photography from London South Bank University. Both before University and throughout, he worked as a Commercial Photographer and Retoucher for both large and small companies, including; Pepsi, Fassi and the Mayor of London. His Fine Art work has been exhibited in galleries around London, most recently showing at the Truman Brewery. In May 2018 he started a photography education and experiences company; 'Master The Light', which has quickly expanded, offering Photography walks, workshops, talks, 1-1 tuition and holidays. He has found great joy in teaching, but continues to work commercially - balancing and enjoying both!

The Impi Theatre Company Hall of Fame 2019

Massive thank you to the following backers for donating and supporting       The Impi Theatre Company

With Special Thanks to Nathan Alexander for helping us to meet our  GoFundMe target. We are eternally grateful!

Elizabeth Sharp

Nix Jillings

Josh Harcourt-Kelly

Jessica Egemen

Peter McCarthy 

Barry Ring 

Bethan Davey 

Holly King 

Sarah McClelland

Sophia Scragg

Susan Hayworth

John Callen 

Sara Wiseman

Sarah Krieg

Ruby Hansen

Michele Hine

Reynald Castaneda

Ceri Ellis 

Alev Koseoglu

Susan Ellis

Cathie Chaplin 

Bronwyn Ensor 

Astrid Gavin 

Gordon and Helene Paterson 

Becky Thornton

Holly Sohail

Rachel Ratcliffe

Amy Paterson

Richard Atkinson 

Karen Dickson 

Ollie Chaplin

Stephanie Stewart 

Julian Brown 

Philip Graves

Nathan Alexander 

Tessa C 

Family Goulding 

Hollie Hurrell



Past Performances 

The Space, London, February '19

After a fantastic season at the Hawkes Bay Arts festival, The South Afreakins had a sold out run, 5 star review and standing ovation at The Space Theatre, London! 


Read the full review from Spy in The Stalls HERE


Hawke's Bay Arts Festival NZ, October '18

After five critically acclaimed seasons, The South Afreakins were invited to headline at the Hawke's Bay Arts Festival in October 2018, playing to their largest audience yet of 280 seats inside the Spiegeltent. 


You can read the full review from The Hook HERE

Hawke's Bay Arts Festival NZ, October '18

After five critically acclaimed seasons, The South Afreakins were invited to headline at the Hawke's Bay Arts Festival in October 2018, playing to their largest audience yet of 280 seats inside the Spiegeltent. 


You can read the full review from The Hook HERE

The Meteor Theatre NZ, May '18

After selling out at Auckland's Basement Theatre, The South Afreakins returned to Robyn Paterson's hometown, playing at Hamilton's Meteor Theatre in May 2018. Playing to a packed house, 20 extra floor seats were added to both nights which also sold out. 

Basement Theatre NZ, August '17

​After a highly acclaimed run at the London VAULT Festival, The South Afreakins travelled back across the world to where it all started: New Zealand.


They sold out a weerk long run at Auckland's Basement Theatre in Auckland in August 2017.


You can read one of the many reviews HERE

London VAULT Festival, February '17


After a successful sell-out season at the '16 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The South Afreakins was invited to perform a week long run at the London VAULT Festival in February 2017.


Publicist Chris Hislop joined the team for this London season. 


You can read one of the many reviews HERE

Edinburgh Fringe Festival '16

The Impi Theatre Company (bar marketing team Pulp and Pith's Sonia Lopez and Joanna Manavopoulou, and actress Robyn Paterson) was comprised of graduates from London's top dramatic universities including The Royal Holloway University, Kingston University, Roehampton University and London South Bank University. These graduates had experience in the performance industry, working with London artists and theatres but used Edinburgh Fringe 2016 and The South Afreakins as a springboard to launch their careers as professional industry practitioners. The Impi Theatre Company is now solely comprised of Executive Producer Xiomara Meyer and actress Robyn Paterson.

Amy Mauvan - Choreographer


Robert Watts - Dramaturg


Madison Turner  - Director


Georgina King  - Producer


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