(1949-) Celebrated actor, director, playwright, artist and novelist. Born Sea Point, South Africa, the son of Margery and Emmanuel Sher. He grew up in the suburb of Sea Point and is a cousin of the playwright Ronald Harwood. In 1968, after completing his compulsory military service, he left for London to audition at the Central School of Speech and Drama and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but was unsuccessful. Instead, he studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art from 1969 to 1971. After training, and some early performances with the theatre group Gay Sweatshop, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982, where he made a name for himself as a classical actor. . He attained British citizenship in 1979. As an Associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he has won a number of British theatre awards. Perhaps his best remembered role is that of Richard III for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award in 1985 and of which he kept diaries and made sketches, published as The Year of the King. Has directed and performed in a number of British productions of South African plays over the years, including Hello and Goodbye (200*, with Estelle Kohler), *. He returned to South Africa on a number of occasions to perform and direct. For example The Tempest( a co-production with the Baxter Theatre, 2008), Primo(), a controversial Titus Andronicus at the Market Theatre (1995), which then went on a tour of Britain and Spain, Broken Glass (the Fugard Theatre, 2011). In 1994, he and his partner Greg Doran ran workshops at the Market Theatre. Among numerous awards, he has won the Olivier Best Actor Award on two occasions (Richard III, Torch Song Trilogy and Stanley), The Evening Standard Best Actor Award (Richard III), the Evening Standard Peter Sellers Film Award (Mrs Brown). In New York his work has been acknowledged with both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Solo Performance (Primo). In South Africa he has also won The Fleur du Cap Award for Best Solo Performance (Primo). His film and television roles have included Mrs Brown, Alive and Kicking, The History Man, Home, Macbeth and Primo. As an author his published work includes Woza Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus in South Africa, with Gregory Doran (1997); Year of the King (1985); Beside Myself (2002); Characters (1990); and Primo Time (2005). He also wrote the novels Middlepost (1989), Cheap Lives (1995), The Indoor Boy (1996), and The Feast (1999) His plays include ID (2003) and Primo (2004). and The Giant (2008). As an artist, he has released a book of his paintings and drawings, Characters, and his most recent exhibitions have been in London, Sheffield and Coventry. He has received honorary doctorates from three British universities and last December from the University of Cape Town. In 2000 he was knighted for his services to acting and writing.
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