Antony Sher

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Antony Sher (June 14, 1949 - December 2, 2021). Celebrated actor, director, playwright, artist and novelist.


Born in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa, the son of Margery and Emmanuel Sher. He grew up in the suburb of Sea Point and was a cousin of the playwright Ronald Harwood. In 1968, after completing his compulsory military service, he left for London. He attained British citizenship in 1979.


He left South Africa for London to audition at the Central School of Speech and Drama and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but was unsuccessful. Instead, he studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art from 1969 to 1971.


After training, and some early performances with the theatre group Gay Sweatshop, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982, where he made a name for himself as a classical actor.

He has directed and performed in a number of British productions of South African plays over the years, including Hello and Goodbye (200*, with Estelle Kohler), *.

His film and television roles have included Mrs Brown, Alive and Kicking, The History Man, Home, Macbeth and Primo.

As an author his published work includes Woza Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus in South Africa, with English director Gregory Doran [1] (1997); Year of the King (1985); Beside Myself (2002); Characters (1990); and Primo Time (2005). He also wrote the novels Middlepost (1989), Cheap Lives (1995), The Indoor Boy (1996), and The Feast (1999). His plays include ID (2003) and Primo (2004) and The Giant (2008).

As an artist, he has released a book of his paintings and drawings, Characters, and his most recent exhibitions have been in London, Sheffield and Coventry.

Sir Anthony Sher died of cancer in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, on December 2, 2021, aged 72.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Antony returned to South Africa on a number of occasions to perform and direct, for example The Tempest (a co-production with the Baxter Theatre, 2008), Primo, a controversial Titus Andronicus at the Market Theatre (1995), which then went on a tour of Britain and Spain, Broken Glass (the Fugard Theatre, 2011), Kunene and the King (the Fugard Theatre, 2019).

In 1994, he and his partner, Greg Doran, ran workshops at the Market Theatre.

Awards, etc.

As an Associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he has won a number of British theatre awards. Perhaps his best remembered role is that of Richard III for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award in 1985 and of which he kept diaries and made sketches, published as The Year of the King.

Among numerous other awards, he has won the Olivier Best Actor Award on two occasions (Richard III, Torch Song Trilogy and Stanley), The Evening Standard Best Actor Award (Richard III), the Evening Standard Peter Sellers Film Award (Mrs Brown). In New York his work has been acknowledged with both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Solo Performance (Primo). In South Africa he has also won The Fleur du Cap Award for Best Solo Performance (Primo).

He has received honorary doctorates from three British universities and from the University of Cape Town.

In 2000 he was knighted for his services to acting and writing.


Tucker, 1997. p.203.

Material held by NELM.

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities S

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page