Brian Brooke (b. 27/09/1911 - d. Randburg, 26/04/1997) was an actor, director, producer, playwright and impressario.
Born in South Africa, but sought a theatrical career in England before the Second World War. Served with the British armed forces in World War II. After demobilisation and further repertory experience in England, he and his new wife Petrina Fry, returned to South Africa in 1946 to start a professional repertory company, the Brian Brooke Theatre Company, in Cape Town, utilizing the Hofmeyr Theatre as their base, but also touring to the Transvaal under the auspices of African Consolidated Theatres. Brooke tended to concentrate on light farce and drawing room comedy, both acting and directing.
Some of his numerous acting and directing include Coward’s Present Laughter (1948/9), No Room at the Inn (1949), The Heiress (1949), Edward, My Son (1950 – it closed after five days), Traveller's Joy (1950), See How They Run (1950), R.F. Delderfield’s A Worm’s Eye View (1951).
He also started bringing out British guest artists to appear with his company in 1952, starting with Cecil Parker for The White Sheep of the Family (1952) and Emlyn Williams for Charles Dickens (1954) and Dylan Thomas: A Boy Growing Up (1956).
In 1955 he moved to Johannesburg where he designed and built the Brooke Theatre (demolished 1981). They opened with The Deep Blue Sea and followed this with over 300 plays in South Africa, touring many of them. He tended to concentrate on light farce and drawing room comedy, both acting and directing. Among them were The Reluctant Debutante (1956), Separate Tables (1957), Janus (1958), Grab Me a Gondola (1958), Charley's Aunt (1960), The Sound of Music (1963), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1965), Tevye and His Daughters (1966), Listen to the Wind [?*] (1966), The Minstrel Show (1966) and The Odd Couple (with Anthony James, 1966), Harvey (1969), You Can't Take it With You (1972), Any Wednesday (1973), Home at Seven (1977).
He wrote a play, The Ageing Adolescent , produced by the Brooke Company in 1978.
His autobiography, entitled My Own Personal Star, was published by his son Michael's The Limelight Press in 1978. In 1989 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of literature by the International University Foundation.
Three Leaf Arts Special Award for Accomplishmennt, 1968. (Source: Teater SA, 1(3), 1969).
Research material on Brian Brooke: photocopies from an unidentified scrap book relating to productions by Brian Brooke, mostly undated, including See how they run [Sept. 1950]; Thark [Nov. 1950]; Charley's Aunt [Dec. 1950]; The Case of the Frightened Lady [Nov 1950]; Blithe Spirit [Jan. 1951]; A Worm's Eye View [April 1951]; Spring in Marino [April-June 1951]; Blue Bird [Oct. 1951];The White Sheep of the Family [April - May 1952]; The Holly and the Ivy [June 1952]; Waters of the Moon [June to Oct. 1952?]; Black Coffee [Nov. 1952]; French Without Tears; The Relapse; Will Any Gentleman?; Murder Mistaken and It Won't be a Stylish Marriage [July 1953] (Source: NELM [Collection: ASCH, Valda]: 2005. 65. 7.)
At a banquet to mark the 25th anniversary of the SAATM in November 1982, Taubie Kushlick, Brian Brooke and Jim Stodel were honoured for their contributions to theatre over the years. (NELM: [Collection: LINDBERG, Des and Dawn]: 2005. 56. 9. 1).
De Beer, 1995.
Return to ESAT Personalities B
Return to South African Theatre Personalities
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page