Peter Ngwenya

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Peter Ngwenya (1956-2009). Playwright, director.

Biography

He was born in Soweto and lived and worked there. He died, aged 53, in May 2009.

Training

He dropped out of school after 16 June 1976 and joined Sam Mhangwane's People's Theatre Association.

His theatre mentors included James Mthoba, Corney Mabaso, David Phetoe and Benjy Francis.

A scholarship at the Yale Repertory Theatre in the US, in 1988, reinforced his belief in the power of drama to develop the mind of a child.

Career

He was a selfmotivated playwright, who started out writing for radio.

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

His first notable production was Save the Child, which toured nationally. This play, performed by children, launched his Soweto Youth Drama Society (SYDS), in 1987, with the aim of giving young people an opportunity to express themselves creatively. That same year it was presented at the Culture in Another South Africa (Casa) festival in Amsterdam, Holland.

He wrote Where is my son?, about children in detention, was performed at the National Arts Festival, 1991 under his direction.

A popular hit was The Toilet, which toured from 2002. At one point it featured Oscarwinning Tsotsi actress Terry Pheto with other notable performers.

His last production was Take Me Home.

Awards, etc

Winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award, 1991.

Soweto’s first theatre complex was named after him.

Sources

National Arts Festival programme, 1991. p. 53.

Tribute by Adrienne Sichel published in The Star, 26 May 2009.

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