Born Taubie Braun in Luckhoff in the Orange Free State on 7 Mei, 1910, the daughter of the Lithuanian immigrant Solomon Braun and the English-born Cecilia Lewis. The family moved to Port Elizabeth, where she was taken under the wing of a drama teacher, and was later sent to London by her parents to become a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London for two years. On her return she became involved with amateur theatre in Port Elizabeth, and after her marriage to Dr Philip Kushlick in 1939, they moved to Johannesburg. The coupole had one son, dr. Rupert Kushlick.
In Johannesburg she joined the Johannesburg REPS, initially acting in, later also directing and producing, plays for them. Out of this developed her impressive professional career.
She died in Johannesburg on 13 March, 1991.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
Taubie produced the first open-air production in Port Elizabeth – Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1939.
As director her many productions in Johannesburg include The Light of Heart (1943), Our Town (1945), Sweeney Agonistes (1950), Look Back in Anger (1957), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1963), Auntie Mame (1965), No, No, Nanette (1972), Jean Anouilh’s The Director of the Opera (PACT, 1977).
Directed Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, starring Enid Grünewald in 1945. Directed and played in George Washington Slept Here in 1946. Also starring Wensley Pithey and Gordon Mulholland. Directed Love on the Dole in 1946. It was her first production for the East Rand Theatre Club, and it enjoyed an extended run. Later taken to the Library Theatre in Johannesburg. Directed The Guinea Pig for the East Rand Theatre Club in May 1948 starring Ethel London. Starred in The Eagle Has Two Heads, by Jean Cocteau which was performed in the Library Theatre in 1949. Also starring Leon Gluckman, with Percy Tucker working backstage. Directed T.S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes and Oscar Wilde’s Salomé starring Sheila Osrin for the Johannesburg REPS in 1950.
She had a huge success with her production of Dark of the Moon on behalf of the University Players in the Fifties She directed André Huguenet in the classic Greek Tragedy Oedipus Rex at His Majesty’s Theatre in 1951. She produced Power Without Glory for the Dramateers in the same year.
She directed Pick-Up Girl in 1952 in Johannesburg. It was an American play which caused much controversy due to its outspoken and disturbing look at prostitution. Marilyn Patterson played the minor prostitute and Colin Stamp the leading male. She directed As You Like It for Children's Theatre which was staged at Rhodes Park in 1953 starring Tessa Laubscher as Rosalind opposite John Rudd’s Orlando, She Stoops to Conquer for the National Theatre in 1954, an Afrikaans translation of John Van Druten’s I Remember Mama, which starred Wena Naudé, Johann Nell and Mathilde Hanekom in 1954, Dial M for Murder which had had tremendous success in 1954.
She starred in a celebrity concert in aid of the National Theatre Development Fund at the Johannesburg REPS in 1954. It was staged by The National Theatre and also starred André Huguenet, Margaret Inglis and Dawie Couzyn, and came through the offices of Breytenbach. Produced Robert Anderson’s Tea and Sympathy starring Margaret Inglis, John Templer and Brian Bell in 1954. She produced and directed Graham Greene’s play, The Living Room, at the Library Theatre starring Anne McMenamin in 1955.
Taubie Kushlick celebrated her quarter-century in the theatre by directing two American plays in 1955 at His Majesty's Theatre in association with ACT. The first was The Desperate Hours starring Bill Brewer and Sadie Festenstein, and the other, The Fifth Season, starring the American actor Joseph Buloff. Kushlick and Leon Gluckman co-produced Leonard Schach’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which was staged at Technical College Hall in 1956, starring Alec Bell, Gerrit Wessels and Gavin Haughton. She staged The Waltz of the Toreadors in 1956. Taubie’s 1956 Christmans show, Listen to the Wind, was a children’s show for all ages. Starring Joyce Grant, Elizabeth Meyer, Brian Proudfoot, June Hern, Maureen Adair and Philip Birkinshaw, with sets by Pamela Lewis at the Library Theatre. She produced and directed Look Back in Anger in October 1957 at the Brooke Theatre starring the young British actor Alan Dobie as Jimmy Porter. Leon Gluckman co-starred with Lydia Lindeque in Taubie Kushlick’s production of The Rope Dancers in 1958.
She went into partnership with Leon Gluckman in March 1959 forming the production company Kushlick-Gluckman. Their first production was a musical version of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Half in Earnest was directed by Gluckman, with Kushlick portraying the role of Lady Bracknell. It also starred Gordon Mulholland, Olive King, June Hern and Michael McGovern.
She directed the play The Marriage-Go-Round which was staged at the Intimate Theatre together with Leon Gluckman in September 1959, with Gordon Mulholland, Fiona Fraser and Peggy Moran. Kushlick and Gluckman staged Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey in 1960.
Kushlick-Gluckman presented Graham Greene’s The Complaisant Lover in July 1960, with Taubie directing Leon Gluckman and Marijke Haakman. Kushlick-Gluckman mounted a revival of Clare Boothe’s The Women at the Intimate Theatre in 1961. Anthony Farmer designed, and Shirley Firth, Jenny Gratus, Valerie Miller and Diane Wilson were in the lead roles. She presented an imported British production of Rattle of a Simple Man with Edward Woodward, Pauline Stroud, Kerry Jordan and stage director Valda Blumberg in 1961.
Together with National Theatres, she brought Marcel Marceau to South Africa in 1962. Together with the National Theatre, she got Irishman Michéal MacLiammoír (born Alfred Willmore) to stage his one-man show about Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Oscar in 1962. She presented Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Starring American actors Jerome Kilty, Cavada Humphrey and Fred Sadoff, and English actress Karel Gardner in 1963. It was set to play at the Port Elizabeth City Hall, an Indian theatre in Durban and the Wits Great Hall in Johannesburg, but controversy over the blasphemous language saw an early close for the production.
She staged C.P. Snow’s The Affair at the Civic Theatre for PACT in 1963. She presented a revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, and The Private Ear/The Public Eye, both directed by Peter Shaffer at the Intimate Theatre in 1964. She presented The Book of Job, which Orlin and Irene Corey, and their Everyman Players staged at the Civic Theatre in October 1964. She presented the Everyman Players’ performance of Arthur Fauquez’s adaptation of Reynard the Fox as a gala to raise funds for Children's Theatre in 1964. She produced The Wizard of Oz for Children's Theatre, contracting Des Lindberg to write extra music and lyrics, and Dawn Silver for choreography. Keith Blundell was the musical director, Nina Campbell-Quine did décor, while Heather MacDonald-Rouse did costumes. It was staged at the Wits Great Hall in 1965. She directed Auntie Mame at the Brooke Theatre in 1965. It was adapted by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee from Patrick Dennis’s autobiographical book. Adam Leslie did costumes for this play which starred Shirley Hepburn in the title role. Together with Brian Brooke she staged Arnold Perl’s play Tevye and His Daughters starring Alec Bell, Sadie Festenstein, Mavourneen Bryceland and Lucille Gillwald in 1966.
Brooke-Kushlick combined again later to revive Listen to the Wind. She staged Gigi at the Zion Hall in 1967. She directed James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter, which was staged at the Alexander for PACT in 1967. It starred Joe Stewardson and Marika Mann. She directed Fiddler on the Roof for ACT at the Empire in 1969. It starred Simon Israeli and Lya Dulizkaya. She also directed Cabaret at the Brooke Theatre in the same year. Anthony Farmer did set design, Bonnie Walker choreography and the show starred Amanda Barrie.
She celebrated forty years in the theatre with a production of Forty Carats starring Glynis Johns, Gordon Mulholland, Fiona Fraser and James Leith at the Alexander in 1971. Staged No, No, Nanette in 1972 at the Alexander Theatre. She directed John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves for PACT/TRUK at the [Alexander Theatre|Alexander]] in 1972. Her production of Eric Blau and Mort Shuman’s Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, starring Ferdie Uphof, Ann Hamblin, Jean Dell and Alain D. Woolf, with Irene Frangs and Robin Dolton as understudies, and Lindsay Heard as musical director opened at the Chelsea Theatre on the 12 August 1972. Different version of this show, starring various singers such as Gay Lambert, Laurika Rauch, Sandy Layne, Bruce Millar, Judy Page, Joe Masiell and Tonia Bern-Campbell, toured to other cities such as Encore Brel starring Laurika Rauch circa 1975.
Together with Don Hughes she presented Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, based on Ingmar Bergman’s film, Smiles of a Summer’s Night. She also directed herself, Maggie Fitzgibbon, Eric Flynn, Hal Watters and Erica Rogers in this play which opened late October 1975 at His Majesty’s Theatre. She directed Keith Grenville and Michael McCabe in Anouilh’s The Director of the Opera for PACT in 1977. She directed an unsuccessful production of George and Ira Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, directed by Taubie Kushlick and starring Ben Masinga and Betty Mthombeni for JODS at the Alhambra Theatre in November 1978. It re-opened, just to close again by the end of January 1979. She was commissioned by Thomas Cooke to re-stage Jacques Brel in November 1979 at the Chelsea Theatre starring Ferdy Uphof, Ann Hamblin, Robin Dolton and Cathy Zerbst. She staged From Taubie with Love starring Judy Page and Marloe Scott-Wilson at the Market Theatre in 1981. She presented Joe Masiell in Joe Masiell Not at the Palace at the Market Theatre in March 1982. She staged The Best of Brel at the Pretoria State Theatre in 1983 before it moved to the Leonard Rayne Theatre. She starred in the PACT production of The Student Prince at the Civic in December 1986. She staged From Taubie with Love at the La Parisienne in August and followed this with another showing of The Best of Brel in 1986. She took a lease on the La Parisienne circa 1986. She brought Danielle Pascal to appear in About Love, and in Bravo Piaf at the La Parisienne in 1987. She presented ’S’Wonderful, ’S’Marverllous at the La Parisienne in 1987. Her establishment, Kushlicks Theatre Restaurant, opened with her production of A Tribute to the Words and Music of Brel on 5 September 1989.
On occasion she acted as adjudicator for the FATSSA Play Festival.
Founded Taubie Kushlick Productions and produced numerous shows over the years. These include Fiddler on the Roof, The Lion in Winter, Blithe Spirit (directed by Peter Shaffer, 1964), Bravo Piaf, and the long-running tribute Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.
At a banquet to mark the 25th anniversary of the SAATM in November 1982, Taubie Kushlick, Brian Brooke and Jim Stodel were honoured for their contributions to theatre over the years. (NELM: [Collection: LINDBERG, Des and Dawn]: 2005. 56. 9. 1).
Various entries in the NELM catalogue.
Robin McGregor. 2001. McGregor's Who Made South Africa (Volume 1). Saxonwold: Purdey Publishers (pp. 95-96).
Tribute published in the Diamond Fields Advertiser, 15 March 1991.
A photocopy of the front cover of the programme for the production Koning Oidipus by African Consolidated Theatres starring André Huguenet and Taubie Kushlick (Courtesy of Jill Fletcher who had used it as research material for her own play André Huguenet – Meneer!.)
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