First Physical Theatre Company

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First Physical Theatre Company is a theatre company attached to the Rhodes University Drama Department.

It is often also listed simply as First Physical, or on occasion referred to by its acronym as the FPTC.

Founded informally in July 1993 by Gary Gordon as a project of the Rhodes University Drama Department. The aim of the company was to “create a leading and powerful repertoire of new South African theatre works; devise high profile exciting and illuminating educational and development programmes; achieve and maintain a highly professional and critical level of creative educational and performance ability; publish and distribute in-depth and critical writing on dance and theatre development in South Africa” (Gary Gordon: Lessons and Mirrors, July 1997) To this end it employs both students and professional performers trained by the Department. Ultimately the company is best known for its physical theatre performances at the Grahamstown Festival and the Vita Dance Indaba, as well as other arts festivals.

Works produced by the company include *** (199*), The Unspeakable Story (1996) created by Gordon, dramatist Reza de Wet, mime-artist Andrew Buckland and students from the company, ***** (199*), ****(199*), and ***** (200*), Vrypas (NAF, 2006), lake…beneath the surface, 16 Kinds of Emptiness (NAF, 2006). Annually for a number of years they also presented their New Voices programme with their young performers and choreographers at the NAF, under the artistic direction of Gary Gordon. Company members over the years have included Samantha Pienaar, Lanon Prigge, Juanita Finestone-Praeg, Reza de Wet, Heike Gehring, Acty Tang, Sheena Stannard ***

The manuscripts and other materials of these productions are held in the National English Literary Museum (NELM) in Grahamstown, as the FPTC Archive.


Prigge, L & "Community-cation". 1996. Physical Intelligence. Pienaar, S. (ed) Issue 1/June, pp.1-3. The First Physical Theatre Company, : Press package.

Juanita Finestone-Praeg. 2018. "Drifting: Reminiscing. Remembering. Reinventing. Reza" (Draft manuscript, courtesy of the author.)

Go to the First Physical Theatre website at

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