James Ngcobo

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James Ngcobo (19**-) is an actor, director and arts administrator.


Born in Kwamashu, Durban, he started his acting career on stage in 1989 when he joined and trained with NAPAC's Loft Theatre Company, Durban. He worked with them for three years before moving to Johannesburg in the early '90s. He was initially drawn to theatre after reading Shakespeare's plays, specifically The Merchant of Venice. He remembers that the play pulled him instantly into the world of drama.

He did wide ranging professional work for NAPAC, the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, the Market Theatre and the Baxter Theatre.

James has also worked in England for Birmingham Rep. Especially adept at comedy.

He took over from Malcolm Purkey as artistic director at the Market Theatre in 2013.

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

As actor

Among the plays he toured with are A Nativity, Horn of Sorrow, Three Musketeers, Moll Flanders, Flat Spin, Spring Awakening and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Other productions include The Circus Adventure (1994), The Good Woman of Sharkville, (1996), Robin's A Cruise-Ou (1997), La Cage aux Folles (1997), Talk Radio (1998), Five Guys Named Moe (1999), Ways of Dying (1999), Happy Natives (2002), Whole in One (2003), Play it Again (.

He played the role of Vuyo in Glassroots (2000) and acted in The Pen by Monde Mayephu, directed by Fiona Ramsay at the Laager 11 Feb-9 March 2003, Green Man Flashing (2004).

As director

In 2005 he debuted as director with an adaptation of Es'kia Mphahlele’s short story, The Suitcase, starring Mbulelo Grootboom.

He directed his adaptation of journalist Fred Khumalo's autobiographical book (2006) Touch My Blood at the Market Theatre and National Arts Festival 2009. He directed Nongogo at the Laager, 2013.

Directed The Lion and the Jewel (2008), The Amen Corner by James Baldwin (Laager Theatre, 2007-2008), Bopha! (2012), Boesman and Lena (2012), The Colored Museum (2014), The Lion and the Lamb (2019).

As writer/director

Wrote and directed Thirst (Market Theatre, 2008) and co-wrote (with Hugh Masekela) and directed the musical production Songs of Migration (Market Theatre, 2010).


Winner Vita Award (National), award year 1997 Ngcobo, James :La Cage aux Folles directed by Janice Honeyman. Tonight/FNB Vita Award for Comedy

Nominated Naledi 2009 New SA play Thirst (James Ngcobo)

Nominated Naledi 2010 ames Ngcobo: Master Harold and the boys.

Nominated Fleur du Cap 2013 Best director: James Ngcobo (Boesman & Lena)




Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Interview with Nokuthula Mazibuko, City Press, 1 October 2006.


Greg Homann and Marc Maufort (Eds). 2015. New territories : theatre, drama, and performance in Post-apartheid South Africa. Bruxelles : P.I.E. Peter Lang. pp 363-370 (Interview).

Anita Nkonki. 2023. "Artistic director of Joburg City Theatres forges international linkages", The Star 2 November, 2023.[1]

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