Brian Astbury

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Brian Astbury (b. 14/11/1941 - d. 07/03/2020) Photographer, director, founder-manager of the immensely influential Space Theatre in Cape Town.


Brian matriculated at Paarl Boys High School in 1959. He was married to Yvonne Bryceland. He died of a heart attack in London on 7 March 2020.


Studied art and photography at ***. ***.


In 1980*? he left for London, where his wife, Yvonne Bryceland, continued her career. Astbury continued as photographer, taught acting at ** and also ran the *** theatre. In 2011 he published his e-book on actor-training (Trusting the Actor ) on Amazon Kindle.

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

In 1972 he, Athol Fugard, Yvonne Bryceland and others felt the need for an experimental and alternative performance space and so The Space was born in Long Street, Cape Town. He became the general manager, director, designer and photographer.

In the 7 years he was The Space he directed The Sun King, A Thousand Clowns, The Tiger, Treats, What the Butler Saw, You’ll Come (chuckle) to Love Your ????? (snigger) Test, Zombie, Children of the Wolf, Don't Drink the Water, Dracula, The Eternal Dance, A Flea in her Ear, Glass House, Going to Pot, Hitting Town, Luv, Madly in Love, A Man Hanging, My Family came over with the Normans, My Husband’s wild desires almost drove me mad, Old King Cole, Ooh! La-La, Patrick Pearse Motel, Play it again, Sam; The Proposal, The Slab Boys.

In the same period he designed the lighting for Sticks and Bones, Superman, A Thousand Clowns, Treats, A Tribute to Noel CowardFumed Oak and Red Peppers, Tsafendas, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, Children of the Wolf, Die Hodoshe Span (The Island), Don't Drink the Water, Drivers, Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi, Edith Piaf – Je Vous Aime, Enemy – An Anti-War Collage, The Eternal Dance, The Family, Female Transport, A Flea in her Ear, The Four Seasons, Glass House, The Glass Menagerie, God’s Forgotten, Hello and Goodbye, Hitting Town, The House of Blue Leaves, The Indian wants the Bronx, Karnaval, Lesson in Blood and Roses, A Long Day's Journey into Night, Luv, Lysistrata S.A., The Maids, Muzeeka, Occupations, Othello Slegs Blankes, Outcry, People are Living There, Pity About People, Play it again, Sam, Scarborough, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, Drive In, Ginger Anne and Tooth of Crime.

He did the sound for Hitting Town and Play it again, Sam; the design for The Eternal Dance and Ooh! La-La; as well as the visual effects for Kitsch.

He also co-wrote some plays which were subsequently staged at The Space such as Zombie and The Disguise of the Ashes that arose out of the Karnaval at Scarborough to prove that Leonardo was Right - an investigation of guilt.

He was a superb theatre photographer and he shot many plays that were staged at The Space and in 1979 wrote a book on The Space, using a selection of these photographs. He also took photographs of CAPAB productions.

In 1997 he directed The Guise at the Nico as part of the 25 year celebration of The Space.

Awards, etc

He won the Johan Nel Award for the "outstanding contribution to performing arts" circa 1973 (Source: undated newsclipping).


Astbury, 1979.

Astbury , 2011.

Die Burger, 9 March 2020.

For more information

Biography of Brian Astbury held by NELM: [Collection: SPACE THEATRE]: 2008. 32. 2. 1.

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