Nomhle Nkonyeni (1942-2019) was an actress on stage and film.
Sometimes billed as Nomhle Nkoyeni.
She was born in Aggrey Road in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, in April 1942 and started her acting career in theatre at the age of 19 and would go on to become one of the first black women to set foot on an apartheid stage in South Africa. She started with the Serpent Players in Port Elizabeth in the early 1970s. Then went to The Space in Cape Town (where her mother Elizabeth was a cleaner) before moving to the then Transvaal to become a stalwart of the Market Theatre, working with Barney Simon, and star in a range of TV and film productions. She later turned her hand to directing and in this, according to Loren Kruger (1999, p239) became the first black African woman director of literary drama in South Africa.
Nomhle died on Wednesday, July 1 2019, in hospital in Port Eizabeth.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
Athol Fugard's adaptation of a medieval play, The Cure, performed by the Serpent Players, including John Kani, Winston Ntshona and Nomhle Nkonyeni, Grahamstown September 1971 during the 1820 Settler Festival.
Then went to The Space in Cape Town (where her mother Elizabeth was a cleaner), to act in in Fatima Dike’s The First South African (1977, playing the mother) and Medea (197*), her first professional role.
When Rob Amato founded People’s Space, she played the “Older woman” in Zakes Mda’s The Hill (1980) ***, ***. For them also co-directed (with Rob Amato) Zakes Mda’s Dark Voices Ring (1979) (as part of the Serpent Players with Athol Fugard at the People’s Space),
In Boklied, 1998.
Cupid in Tyhume, Gr Fest 2006.
She received an Artes in 1994 for her role in a radio production of Boesman and Lena.
Received a Naledi Theatre Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005.
She was awarded the Safta Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and in 2017, the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for her role in theatre. It was presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Kruger, Loren, 1999.
My Boarding School publicity pamphlet, 2017.
Interview with Nomhle Nkonyeni, 2017. The Herald, May 12, 2017.
Daily Sun, 11 July 2019.
Return to ESAT Personalities N
Return to South African Theatre Personalities
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page Ḁ