Jill Fletcher (1929- 2003) was a Cape Town puppeteer, dramatist, journalist, critic and theatre historian.
A descendent of the 1840 Byrne Settlers, she was born in Port Said, Egypt on 20 August 1829, and educated in England, before emigrating to South Africa in 1948, where she settled in Cape Town. Married to Tony Fletcher. For a while in 2001-2002, she taught the history of theatre at the New Africa Theatre Association. She died in Cape Town on December 28, 2003.
Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance
She is a playwright, theatre historian, puppeteer (with her husband Tony Fletcher's company Fletcher's Puppets), a free-lance theatre critic for the Cape Times and very involved in amateur and youth theatre.
She was a puppeteer for her husband, Tony Fletcher's company Fletcher's Puppets), andin the early 1970s, Jill and her husband Tony Fletcher mounted periodic marionette productions with their company at the Nico Malan Theatre in Cape Town, centered on their loveable character, "Mrs Em",
She was chairperson of the Cape Times Award Committee, (awards which recognise the achievements of amateur theatre in Cape Town), secretary of the Friends of the SA Library and works for Action Workshop.
Also has a private theatre company called: The Barnstormers, which has The Old Barn as home. Her plays, mostly comedies, are characterized by controlled and witty dialogue, a keen sense of satire and credible plots.
She is the author of at least seven full-length, thirteen one-act, and several children’s plays, including those written under several pseudonyms, including Brigid Brophy, Betty Cowie, Francis Hardy, Francis Jill Morwenna.
Among the one act plays are Borderline, Bulldozer, Crocodile Tears (1973), Exposure (1986), Have a Heart (1974), The Miracle or No 12 Flower Street (1981), Miss Nelly (1974), The Play’s the Thing and Taken Short (all under her own name), Anyone for Mafeking and Out of Season (1974) as Francis Hardy.
Her full length plays include **, ** and, in 2000, André Huguenet – Meneer!, a new, full-length play based on the life of controversial Afrikaans actor and director André Huguenet. This was produced by The Barnstormers in the Arena Theatre, with Fletcher as director.
As historian she has made a major contribution with her accessible and beautifully illustrated history of early colonial theatre in South Africa, called The Story of South African Theatre: 1780-1930, based on the work she had done on an exhibition of the history of theatre in the Cape for the opening of the Nico Malan Theatre in 197*???. The book was published in 1994. In 2001 she received the Fleur du Cap Lifetime Award for her contribution to the industry. She died in 2004.
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