David Nissen

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David Nissen (1951-). Guitarist and vocalist, actor, composer, playwright and musical arranger.


Born in 1951, **

Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance

He began his dual professional career in music and theatre in 1971, and for much of his life he was split between a straight concert career and a career in theatre. These facets of his life are at times difficult to separate, as some of the musical presentations were theatrically conceived and based, and conversely, many theatrical activities were in a sense musical events as well. This entry naturally focusses more on the theatrical work.

Concert career

His South African career as professional concert musician included over 60 theatrical shows, starting with a 1971 national tour with Mandy Cohen and Nicholas Pike and ending with the Credence Clearwater Revival Show (1997-2004) and Lonely Stranger (an Eric Clapton Show, 1999-2004) and concerts in the Dorp Street Theatre, Stellenbosch (2000-2004). He then moved to Ireland, where he still does the occasional concert or session.

Theatrical career

As arranger/composer/recorder/performer and/or musical director

In 1972 he went to work for the Space Theatre, where he performed, among others, in plays Animal Fair (devised and presented by Phillip Boucher, 1972), and composed the music for and sang in Stories, Folk and Film (1972), Othello Slegs Blankes (Donald Howarth, 1972)*, He later also did musical work on Alice (1980) and Godspell for the People's Space (1981).

In 1984 he joined CAPAB, where his musical work included Bremen Coffee (1985), The Woods (1985), Celebrations II (1987), The Wizard of Oz (1986), Elizabeth I (1988), The Road to Mecca (1989), How Table Mountain Got Its Cloud (1989), Mr Mojo Risin - A Tribute to Jim Morrison (1990), Much Ado about Nothing (Maynardville, 1990), Merry Wives of Windsor (1991), Beatlemania (1991), Working Class Hero (1991), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Maynardville and Oude Libertas Theatre, 1993). Jesus Christ Superstar (1993), Hair (1993) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1994).

From 1989 he also did work for the Baxter Theatre, doing inter alia Lavender Hill Blues (1989) and Juno and the Paycock (1990).

As playwright/director

Wrote, and often directed and performed in, a number of musical productions, including The Prince and the Sphinx (Cape Town Festival for Captour, 1987), which he considers a career highlight. Also How Table Mountain Got Its Cloud (Nico Malan Theatre, 1989), Working Class Hero (Nico Arena, 1991).


CAPAB Brochure, Aug-Nov 1989.

A Midsummer Night's Dream programme notes in 1995 at Maynardville.


CV supplied by David Nissen (July 2015)

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