Joan Blake

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Joan Blake (19**-1992) Actress and cabaret artiste. Born in South Africa and was trained in drama and ballet.

She tried her luck in Britain and her first dancing lead in London was in Gory of Norway, the life story of Grieg devised by Robert Helpmann and had a two year run at the Palace Theatre. From there she joined the cast of Cage me Peacock by Noel Langley and there she met Adam Leslie, who is said to have "discovered" her. He was writing the lyrics for the music in the play at the time.

She spent an extensive period doing cabaret in the West End, principally at the Bagatelle. Breaking away from dancing she was seen with André van Gyseghem's company at the Nottingham Playhouse by Sir Barry Jackson and his producer Douglas Seale. From there she went to the Birmingham Reps and worked for eight years, during which she assisted Douglas Seale in his productions at the Old Vic.

She returned to South Africa in 195*, to become a regular performer here.

Performances in South Africa

Over the years she had roles in The Reluctant Debutante (the Brian Brooke Company, 1956), Adam and Joan (at Cicero's nightclub in Johannesburg , 1957), Grab Me a Gondola (Brooke Theatre, 1958), Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (NTO, 1958), Let Your Hair Down, (Intimate Theatre, 1958 – 1959), A Long Day's Journey into Night at the Intimate Theatre (Cockpit Players, 1959), For Love or Money by Adam Leslie (the inaugural production of The Playhouse in Durban, October 1960), The Amorous Prawn at the Alexander Theatre, 1961), Hamlet (PACT, Johannesburg Civic Theatre, 1964), Shaw's Heartbreak House (PACT, Alexander Theatre, 1967), Music Hall Revue (the opening show at the Adam Leslie Theatre August 1967), Strike it Rich (The Adam Leslie Theatre 1967). Other plays include Angels in Love at the Alexander Theatre and Adam Leslie's Two's Company. Anthony Farmer's Guys and Dolls, The Importance of Being Earnest, You Can't Take it With You and The Male Animal. She played the role of Fronsine in Mr. Skinflint.

She did the choreography for Little Mary Sunshine (1965).

Sources

Hair Hair programme notes, 19**.

The Alexander Theatre's programme of The Amorous Prawn of September, 1961.

Tucker, 1997: pp. 104, 111, 118, 121, 132, 153, 192, 205, 223, 242, 519.

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

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