Jane Taylor

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Jane Taylor (1956-2023) was a writer, playwright and academic.


Born in South Africa on 19 April 1956

She obtained a Ph.D in English from Northwestern University, Chicago, with a study on Restoration theatre and the new commodity markets. The recipient of various Rockefeller and Mellon Fellowships, she has for several years been a periodic Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and from 2000 to 2009 she held the Skye Chair of Dramatic Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand.

In Fall 2011, she was Writer-in-Residence at Northwestern University.

She held the Wole Soyinka Chair in Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds.

She has in recent years also taken to writing novels and in 2006 she won the Olive Schreiner Prize for new fiction for her novel Of Wild Dogs"" .

Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance

As cultural researcher

She has written widely on contemporary South African culture, and in 1987 she co-edited From South Africa with David Bunn (University of Chicago Press).

In 1996 she curated "Fault Lines," an exhibition about issues of truth and reconciliation.

In 1998, she curated "Holdings" Rethinking the Archive" (David Philip publishers, 2002).

In 2009 she edited Handspring Puppet Company (David Krut Publications), a substantial study of this world-renowned South African performance troupe.

In 2015 she wrote an article called "Contemporary Collaborators I: Kentridge/Handspring/Taylor" in Middeke, Schnierer and Homann (2015), an insider's view based on her work with William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company'.

As playwright and theatre maker

In 1996 she wrote the play Ubu and the Truth Commission for the Handspring Puppet Company.

In 1999, Taylor directed Puccini's La Boheme for the Spier Theatre Festival in Cape Town.

In 2001 she wrote the libretto for The Confessions of Zeno for Kentridge and Handspring.

She has, with composer Kevin Volans, written a new piece of music theatre based on the work of Italo Svevo. Directed by the artist William Kentridge, the production was commissioned by DOKUMENTA, 2002. This piece opened at the KunstenFest in Brussels in 2001.

As part of a group of twelve playwrights commissioned to make create a version of Cardenio, a lost play allegedly written by Shakespeare, she devised After Cardenio, which opened in Cape Town in August 2011.


She has had fellowships from Mellon and Rockefeller, and has been a Visiting Professor at Oxford and at Cambridge.



Martin Middeke, Peter Paul Schnierer and Greg Homann (editors). 2015. The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary South African Theatre. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

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