Robert Kirby

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Robert Kirby (1936–2007) [1] was a South African satirist, columnist, comedian, novelist, musician, playwright and director. Satirical writer of revues and plays.


Kirby was born 26 April 1936 in Durban and educated there and in Kimberley. He died in February 2007 at the age of 70.



He studied music at the University of Cape Town.


He joined the SABC as an announcer/producer. He worked after that in London for the BBC in both radio and television and came back to South Africa and to the SABC as a drama producer. His early morning programmes in the late 60's are well remembered.

His satirical prose works and particularly his newspapers columns over the years have been most popular.

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

In the 1960s and 1970s he wrote and performed in numerous sparkling revues, including Eight Birds (19**), Eight Beasts (19

He was the co-founder and director, with Michael Lovegrove, of the Eight Beasts Theatre Company in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

He wrote Finger Trouble in 1968; 8 Birds at the Labia Theatre in 1970; The Receiver of Revenue Show (Brooke Theatre, circa Nov 1973); The Dot-Dash Show , 1975; How Now, Sacred Cow? , 1977; Quodlibet, 1978; Separate Development, 1980; It's a Boy! , 1982; The Wrong Time of Year , 1984; Brave New Pretoria, 1984; The Bijers Sunbird, 1986; While Stocks Last, 1991.

His revue Brave New Pretoria (1984) has been critically acclaimed as his best.

Together with Terry Lester he presented Academy Rewards at the Academy Theatre in 1981.

He contributed to Graffiti 84, the Momentum Theatre’s first production in 1984.

Awards, etc

He won the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best New Indigenous Script for While Stocks Last (1991).

Thomas Pringle Award 1996 (reviews category).


Tucker, 1997.

The Wrong Time of Year theatre programme, 1984.

Sunday Times 18 February 2007.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Judges' report, Thomas Pringle Award, held by NELM: [Collection: ENGLISH ACADEMY OF SOUTHERN AFRICA]: 2010. 96. 5. 17.

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