Natal Performing Arts Council

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Founded 25th July 1963 with 4 Departments (Drama, Opera, Music, Ballet) under Chris Lombard as first Director. Registered as a society not for gain, it was headed by a policy-making council chaired by the provincial administrator and representative of all interested parties, including the province, the city municipalities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the department of national education, the business sector as well as representatives of the various performing art forms. Their function was to provide provide artists and artisans with a secure career option, to develop and promote drama, ballet, music and opera by offering audiences in the province with regular professional productions.


Initially based in two small offices in the NPA-building in Acutt Street, Durban, they moved to the Arts Centre 43 in Albany Alley for three months, before obtaining more permanent housing in an old manor house, the former Berea Nursing Home, in Overport (fondly referred to as "The Crow's Nest"). From 210 performances in 1964, NAPAC grew to be the second-largest Arts Council in South Africa with, in the 1980s, 700 employees and a production programme of drama, musicals, symphony concerts, opera, ballet and school tours, with administrative offices in the "Crow's Nest" in the old Berea Nursing Home in Acutt Street and large workshops in Mayville.

The Art Centre, Durban

A centre built by ** at Albany Alley 44, Durban. * In March 1964 no 43 in the Centre became second home for the Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC) for a period of three months, before they moved on to the "Crow's Nest" in the Berea Nursing Home in July. **. **


The director was Chris Lombard (from 19** to 19**) and the head of drama John Moss (from 19** to 19**).


Rodney Phillips was appointed Director in 1982.

In 1986 the Natal Playhouse complex opened as NAPAC’s official home for the various departments, including the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (founded 1983) and, in 1985, the Napac Dance Company, the Loft Theatre Company and the Musicals Department. In the late 1980s, with reductions in state subsidy, particularly after the introduction of the Stumpf funding formula, pressure from political organisations (including the Natal Cultural Congress) and the Durban City Council, and after investigations by CRAN (Commission for Researching the Restructuring of the Performing Arts in Natal) and ECON (Evaluation Committee of Napac), NAPAC began a process of transformation. Between 1993 and 1994 restructured, with over 200 employees retrenched or dismissed, a new Board of Directors, and 3 main areas (Education, Development, Performance). In this period Mbongeni Ngema was appointed as Artistic Director for Musical Theatre and under the guidance of the Chief Executive Officer, Johann Zietsman, NAPAC was replaced by a newly formed entity, the The Playhouse Company was launched 11/2/1995. NAPAC: KwaZulu-Natal Playhouse Company. Margaret Inglis directed Nan Munro in The Importance of Being Earnest and Michael Atkinson in The Lady’s Not for Burning for NAPAC in Durban post 1962. Their Christmans production was the musical called Christian, later renamed Follow that Man, inspired by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and was staged at His Majesty’s in 1980. It was written by Nick Taylor and starred Taylor and Barry Kent. Their production of Snoopy!!! starring Tim Plewman, Cathy Cota and Mark Richardson and directed by Geoffrey Sutherland was presented in association with CT Productions (Plewman and Cota) at the Space Frame theatre in 1984. Geoffrey Sutherland’s production of Peer Gynt was staged at the Durban Alhambra for NAPAC in October 1985.

The new Natal Playhouse complex was opened on 12 April 1986 with NAPAC’s resident conductor David Tidboald conducting the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. NAPAC’s executive director Rodney Phillips supervised the construction and design of the theatre. They presented Noël and Gertie starring Philip Godawa and Andre Hattingh at the Leonard Rayne Theatre in 1986. Geoffrey Sutherland directed The Pirates of Penzance starring Clive Scott, Julie Wilson, Edwin van Wyk and Colleen-Rae Holmes for NAPAC which was brought to the Civic by PACT in December 1986. Together with the other three performing arts councils they staged The Great Walt for their Christmas production in 1987 and Singin’ in the Rain for their Christmas production in 1988. They staged Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide and Sweet Charity, collectively marked as The Trilogy in 1989. Moira Blumenthal and NAPAC presented William Finn’s March of the Falsettos at the Adcock-Ingram in September 1989. Together with PACT and PACOFS they presented Lerner and Louwe’s Camelot at the State Theatre in 1989. Together with Pieter Toerien they presented Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Andre Huguenet in 1990. Together with PACOFS and PACT they staged My Fair Lady for their Christmas production in 1990.They presented Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar at the Durban Playhouse in 1991. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a combined performing arts council’s production which ran from 1990 to 1991. Together with PACT, the Johannesburg Civic Theatre Association and CAPAB they presented A Chorus Line in 1992. Together with CAPAB and PACOFS they presented Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! in 1993. **** (Tucker, 1997) [McM] PACOFS/NAPAC Loft Comp. Herman Charles Bosman: The storyteller. Adapted for stage: Val Rosenberg; Dir: Michael Swinton; with Roger Dwyer & Stephen Gurney, Philippa Gutridge & Bruce Young. Sand du Plessis Theatre, 1985. NATAL PERFORMING ARTS COUNCIL (N.A.P.A.C./N.A.R.U.K.) Durban. The director was Chris Lombard (from 19** to 19**) and the head of drama John Moss (from 19** to 19**).


NAPAC Reference Library and NAPAC Archives

NARUK NASLAAN-Biblioteek/NARUK Argief NAPAC Reference Library/NAPAC Archives

29 Acutt Street, Durban 4001 Mail: Private Bag 5353, Durban 4000 Telephone: +27 (31) 304 3631 Telefax: +27 (31) 306 2166

Holdings on

Dramatic theatre. Operetta/Musical. Ballet/dance. Pantomime/mime. Children's theatre. Puppet theatre. Cabaret/Kabaret. Variety/music hall. Amateur theatre. Theatre architecture. Festivals. Public celebrations. Other.


Books. Periodicals. Playtexts. Photos. Promptbooks. Manuscripts. Correspondence. Programmes. Clippings. Posters. Designs/Plans. Costumes. Properties. Sets. Models. Videos/films/DVDs. Official documents. Scores/libretti/music. Masks. Paintings. Memorabilia. Sound recordings/CDs. Production material. Other.


SACD 1973, 1974

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