Darryl Nel

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Darryl Nel (1972-) is a theatre producer, director, actor, writer and composer, and an arts educator.


Born in East London, where he grew up and matriculated from Selborne College (1990). He began producing theatre while still at school, under the banner of The Good Fun Company. After school, he completed a degree in English and Drama at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (1993), before moving to Cape Town, where he lived for several years, working as a teacher and actor (1994-1998).

Relocating to Argentina for a brief spell to work as a theatre teacher (1999-2000), he then returned to South Africa, to live in Port Elizabeth where he and his wife ran a theatre company (DSN Productions), before moving to the UK in 2005 to work as a music and theatre teacher and later as an administrator at the ACS international school at Cobham in Surrey, where he has continued to work with young, emerging theatre makers and performers.

In England he also completed a PhD at SOAS University of London[1] in 2018 titled The Tokoloshe and Cultural identity in post-Apartheid South Africa.

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

Early years and training

Nel's theatrical apprenticeship was primarily in amateur theatre in East London. He made his professional debut as a teenager at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town in 1987.

While at Rhodes University, he was directed by Prof Sydney James, Andrew Buckland and Ilse van Hemert. At this time, he also worked on several original productions for The Institute for Social and Individual Development in Africa (ISIDA) for Prof Ken Dovey.

Professional career in South Africa

In Cape Town, he worked for CAPAB Drama & Opera, Cape Town Opera and Pieter Toerien. In the early 2000s, his theatre company produced work mostly at the Port Elizabeth Opera House, but he also worked at this time with Centrestage and the PE G&S Society, and was a regular voice teacher at Stageworld Theatre School.

Involvement in specific productions have encompassed a range of activities.

As a child actor:

Winnie-the-Pooh ("Small") (1984), Dark of the Moon ("Floyd") (1986), The Wizard of Oz ("Scarecrow") (1986), Alice in Wonderland ("Knave of Hearts") (1987), Hello, Dolly! ("Barnaby") (1988), Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood ("Cecil") (1988), South Pacific ("Professor") (1989), Mame ("Patrick Snr") (1991)

As a student actor (Rhodes University): Little Mary Sunshine ("Billy") (1991), Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad ("Jonathan") (1991), Bouncers ("Les") (1991), Hamlet ("Gravedigger") (1992), The Good Person of Szechwan ("Wang") (1993), Leaving Out Profanity (1993)

As an adult actor: Made in South Africa ("Mr White") (1995), Jesus Christ Superstar ("Simon-Peter") (1996), Into the Woods ("The Baker") (1997), Shear Madness ("Nick") (1997), Ghosts of the Castle ("Nurse Irvine"/"James Barrie") (1998), Chicago ("Mary Sunshine") (2002), Crooning Down Memory Lane ("Tommy") (2002), Something Cheeky ("Smiley Ratshit") (2002), Here ("Phil") (2003), Macbeth ("Macbeth") (2004, 2006), The Wizard of Oz ("Miss Gulch"/"Lion"/"Wicked Witch") (2004)

As a director:

All About Animals (1993), Partners in Time (1996, 2001), Shaken, Not Stirred! (2002), The Date (2002, 2003), Here (2003), Comedy Tonight! (2002, 2003), Sommer So! (2003, 2004), Tom Ruiters (2004), The Wizard of Oz (2004), Romeo and Juliet (2005), Winnie-the-Pooh (2005), The Canterbury Tales (2005), Agnes of God (2005), Macbeth (2004, 2006)

As musical director:

Fame '92 (1992), Alice in Christmas Wonderland (1992), Songs My Lover Stole (1993), Showtime 2004 - Flying Colours (2004)

As a writer:

Hansel and Gretel (1987), The Golden Goose (1987), New Boy (1988), Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1989), Sleeping Beauty (1989), Genesis (1991), The Emperor’s New Clothes (1991), Under the Roses (1994), Partners in Time (1996, 2001), J.J. and the Dassies (2002), Something Cheeky (2002), Tom Ruiters (2004), The Canterbury Tales (2005)

As composer:

Simply South African (1991), Fame '92 (1992), Citi Boy (1993), Songs My Lover Stole (1993), Fireside Tales (1993)


Debuut '91 and The Shell Road to Fame 1993


Rhodes University Drama Department Award; Winner – Shell Road to Fame (1993); The Herald Showtime Awards (Something Cheeky, Comedy Tonight! & Special Award) (2005)


E-mail submission by Darryl Nel, 21 July 2023.

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