Themi Venturas

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Themi Venturas (19**-2017). Actor, Singer, Producer, Playwright, Events Organiser, Composer.


Born in Zimbabwe as Themistocles Venturas, he is of Greek origin and is the fourth generation to be born in Southern Africa. He moved down to Port Elizabeth and became involved in amateur theatre from an early age, winning his first talent contest at the age of four, singing Elvis Presley’s "Teddy Bear". He died in Durban in September 2017 at the age of 59, survived by his wife Trish and their sons Matthew and Alexander.

Studies and training

In his own words, delivering the 1998 André Huguenet Memorial Lecture for the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival, his theatrical career was conceived and nurtured in the Mannville nursery of Bruce and Helen Mann.

After high school, Venturas headed off to Durban where he studied Speech and Drama at the former University of Natal, now the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He qualified with a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude)

Contributions to South African theatre

As actor

He was among the five performers who started the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre Company. Also comprising Celeste Litkie, Brenda Radloff, Melanie Bowles and Mark Faith, the company was created at the same time as NAPAC's Loft Theatre Company.

Plays performed include: A Tale of Two Cities (1984), An Evening with Jaques Brel (1985)

As director

Has directed more than 500 productions over 30 years, ranging from music revues, musical theatre, comedy, to Shakespeare and classical Opera, and has managed numerous ceremonies and corporate events. Plays directed (and often designed) include:

"The Lark for The Young uns (1974): Antigone (Anouilh, Port Elizabeth, 1976); Exit the King (1983); A Tale of Two Cities (1984); Mickey Kannis Caught my Eye (1984); Footloose (2014).

In November, 2001, presented by Venturas Productions in association with Arnie Field, he produced Hometalk, a musical cabaret which focused on famous hit songs by South African artists recorded over the previous 50 years. It was staged at the Hellenic Hall Port Elizabeth, under the auspices of the PE Hellenic Community and featured a wide range of music by artists such as African Jazz Pioneers, Four Jacks and a Jill, The Staccatoes, Richard John Smith, Miriam Makeba, The Coleske Bros (who also hail from PE), Juluka, Dr Victor, Mango Groove, Clout, Rabbitt, TKZee, Barbara Ray, Lucky Dube, Bright Blue and e'Void. Songs such as Master Jack, Hellfire, Sunglasses, Mammy Blue, Patha Patha, Substitute, Impi, Daar's n Trein, Candlelight, Homeless, My Only, Cry to Me, Taximan, and Mama Tembu's Wedding were sung.

As manager

Began work as the head of productions at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the campus of the university. Afterwards, he joined the former Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC), working on the Kwasa community project. This was a project, which incorporated festivals, internship programmes and training. It helped to launch many young people into a career in the performing arts. When problems arose within NAPAC, he volunteered his retrenchment and started Themi Venturas Productions, of which he is managing director. He has also been the manager of two theatres, namely the Catalina Theatre and the KwaSuka Theatre.

He has served as President of the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) for KwaZulu-Natal and as national exco member of PANSA, as a trustee on the Arts and Culture Trust of South Africa (ACT) and as a Board Member of Theatre Biz.

As playwright

Though he does not primarily see himself as playwright, he has created or helped to create a number of theatrical works, including:

The Suzie Johnson Trilogy, Air Guitar, Cantina Tequila & 4 Guys Named Jose, Jamaican Jim, Jimbo, Taxi Jam, The African Passion, The Guitar that Rocked the World, De Compleat Hstry of Dbn (without the boring bits!)

Adaptations for the stage include: the African language operas Princess Magogo ka Dinizulu and Ziyankomo


The Herald, 12 May 1998.

Tribute written by A.J. Opperman, Beeld, 13 September 2017.

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

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