Benjy Francis

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Benjy Francis. (19**-) Actor, director and arts activist.

Biography

Youth

Training

Studied at the University of Durban-Westville.


Career

One of the founding members of TECON in 1969, working with them till the mid 1970s. Working with TECON towards the end of its existance, he also developed productions with black casts in Soweto, including a revival of Fugard’s The Blood Knot (also playing at Upstairs at the Market, 1976) and a workshopped version of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (with James Mthoba and Sam Williams, playing in Durban, Soweto and Upstairs at the Market during 1976.) He then joined Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in Johannesburg, and at one time was second in command of the organisation. Directed a number of works for them, including Mda’s Dead End and We Shall Sing for the Fatherland (1978/9?*), The Me Nobody Knows (Market Theatre, 1977.

In 1983 founded the Dhlomo Theatre and set up and headed the Afrika Cultural Centre.

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

He directed The Blood Knot (1976), Waiting for Godot with an all black cast at the same venue in 1976, We Shall Sing for the Fatherland. He directed the show The Me Nobody Knows, with music by Gary William Friedman and lyrics by Will Holt which was staged by The Company at the Market Theatre in 1977. It starred Leonie Hofmeyr, Leslie Mongezi, Nomsa Nene, Barrie Shah and Jonathan Taylor. He directed Night of the Long Wake, the opening production of The Dhlomo Theatre on 21 March 1983.

Founded Federated Union of Black Artists in 1978 and formed the Afrika Cultural Centre.

Awards, etc

Sources

Tucker, 1997. pp 335, 344.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

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