Albert Thomas (1932?-2006) was a Cape Town based community activist, administrator and part-time theatre director.
He met and married Gladys Adams when she was 18, and they subsequently had two children, Adrian Thomas and Tanja Thomas. The family settled in Simonstown, but were later evicted in terms of the notorious Group Areas Act and moved to the “raw”, unfinished township of Ocean View. This experience led to Gladys starting to write about the issues, and both of them became engaged in community activism and cultural matters in Ocean View.
He joined the staff of the University of Cape Town in January 1984 and retired at the end of 1993, where he ran the Student Advice Office during the difficult 1980s and pre-1990 days. Many a struggling student was helped by Thomas to find their feet, get funding, find accommodation, or sort out a study permit (as was required at the time under the Extension of University Education Act, 1959).
He continued to be engaged in community affairs until his death in 2006 at the age of 74.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
Albert's theatrical work appears to have largely revolved around Gladys's writing. So for example she wrote the play The Time is Now, a localized adaptation of Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets (1906-1963), in 1991 to be directed by Albert Thomas for a performance at a mini-festival linked to a Theatre Action Group (Cape Town) seminar. In 1993, Gladys and Thomas began a theatre group, Getwize Players, to perform her plays, choosing Albert's production of The Time is Now as their debut piece, taking it on tour in the Cape Peninsula and to the Grahamstown Arts Festival.
The Star, 8 Oct 1991
Michele King. 2011 "Gladys Thomas of Ocean View – esteemed poet", The Scenic South (November 25, 2011)
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