Lydia Theron (1942-) is an actress, drama teacher and tour organiser for the South African Department of Information.
Born in Bloemfontein and in 1960 completed high school at the Oranje Meisieskool, where she had participated in eisteddfods (attaining a few “A” certificates). In view of this talent the head of school, Miss M.L. Spies, an influential drama enthusiast herself, encouraged her to go to the University of Stellenbosch to do a BA degree with Fred Engelen. She went there in 1961, completing the course in 1963. Other members of staff included Tine Balder (Engelen's wife), Gisela Taeger,Jocelyn de Bruyn and others, and among her fellow students at the time were Pieter Fourie, Frans Marx, Christine Basson, Ilse Geyer and Marie Pentz.
Her father was not comfortable with the idea of the theatre as a career, so in 1964 she did a teacher’s diploma and promised to teach for at least one year. She obtained a position at the Port Natal school, teaching there in 1965.
After this flirtation with the drama and theatre, she joined the South African Department of Information in 1969 as an organiser of tours for state guests. Initially stationed in Bloemfontein, then Cape Town a year later, she was eventually sent back to the head office in Pretoria, where she and a colleague had to plan and book all tours for guests of state.
In 1973 she was posted to London as an Information Attaché. There she would later meet her husband, Tamer Levent, a Turkish citizen working for the Shell International. They married in 1976 and ended up working in Saudi-Arabia for 23 years, before retiring.
Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance
In 1967 she was asked to replace Christine Basson in Pieter Fourie’s theatre company, for a tour with Fourie’s play Vergewe ons ons skulde ("Forgive us our sins"), directed by Susie-Mey Viljoen. According to Theron, the idea of this project was assess the viability of tours of the platteland at the time, so they spent a year visiting the towns of the Cape Province, the company adapting its performance to the reactions of the audience of the particular evening.
However, she says that a year in a caravan was quite enough for a middle-class girl, so in 1968 she accepted a position as drama teacher in the art department of the Technical College in East London. However a year later she headed back to the stage when she joined the Nasionale Kinderteater (founded by Johan Bernard and funded by his mother). They had a successful tour of the Transvaal towns with Bernard's translation of the play Die Drie Wense ("The Three Wishes"), but then the funding was withdrawn by Mrs Bernard and the tour ended.
Conversations and correspondence with Lydia Levent (Lydia Theron), 2019-2020.
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