Nicholas Ellenbogen

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Nicholas Ellenbogen (19**-) is an actor, director, manager and playwright.


He was born in Zimbabwe.


He studied at the University of Cape Town Drama School?*


He joined NAPAC where he founded the Loft Theatre Company in 1985 and began exploring the specific style of improvisatory and mimetic theatre with Ellis Pearson, Brendan Grealy and others. In 1989 he and Pearson*? founded Theatre for Africa, to use improvisational and mimetic principles in a theatre aimed at eco-issues.

Simultaneously Ellenbogen also continued to capitalise on the success of his entertaining physical style of satiric comedy in Raiders of The Lost Aardvark??**

In 19* he moved to Cape Town to open a series of theatre venues. He first set up a tiny bucket-seat theatre at the Olympia Café in Cape Town, followed by the Kalk Bay Theatre, which he created by transforming an old church building into a two-level restaurant and performance venue. His third venture was to convert the old Muizenberg post office near Cape Town into an 84-seat amphitheatre which he called the Post Box Theatre.

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

One of the leading exponents of the improvisational method in South Africa, Ellenbogen has over the years developed a specific style of improvisatory and mimetic theatre and became a driving figure behind the establishment of the Fringe at the Grahamstown Festival.

As performer

He helped devise and appeared in A Touch of 1900s (The Space ,197*), An Arabian Night (Market Theatre 197*), *.

He starred in Pygmalion (CAPAB 1975), Playboy of the Western World, Tom Stoppard’s Travesties in 1978, A Murder is Announced (1978), Michael Frayn’s Clouds, 1979, The Unvarnished Truth, 1979, Jumpers, 1980, Jimmy Righteous (1981), Zeyda in 1981, Precious Remnants directed by Jon Maytham in July 1983.

He returned to acting with a role in Twelfth Night (Maynardville, 2006 – Fleur du Cap Award for best supporting actor).

As director

He directed Aggie's Pitch (NAPAC 1986), The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1988), Richard III (1988)Cinderella for Theatre for Africa at the Wits University Theatre in 1991.

As writer

He wrote growing up in Gravelotte.

He wrote and acted in Precious Remnants directed by Jon Maytham in July 1983. His pantomime A Nativity was staged at the Market Theatre in 1990. His Theatre for Africa presented Raiders of the Lost Aardvark at the Wits University Theatre in 1991.

His Nick goes Native was staged at the Amphitheatre in 1992. His Theatre for Africa presented Kwamanzi and Elephant of Africa at the Wits Theatre in 1992.

At the National Arts Festival 1997, Spirit of the Lake a musical created with Scottish director Toby Gough.

ELLENBOGEN, Nicholas, Patrick Mofkeng & Godfrey Johnson in Raiders, lord of the dings. Olympia Bakery, Kalk Bay. (2003) The Diaries of Diesel du Toit by Nicholas Ellenbogen. Also Nhlanhla Mavundla & Liz Szymczak. Olympia, Kalkbaai.

Awards, etc

Nominee 1991 Ellenbogen, Nicholas for A Nativity (Dawie Malan Award for best South African Play);

in Twelfth Night (Maynardville, 2006 – Fleur du Cap Award for best supporting actor).


SACD 1977/78; 1978/79; 1979/80.

Percy Tucker. 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Alexander Matthews. 2014. Work/Life: Nicholas Ellenbogen – Playwright. An interview posted on Aerodrome[1] on 28 Jan 2014 at Accessed: 6 September, 2017.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

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