Lena Farugia (1949 – 2019) was an actress, editor, television producer and playwright.
Also credited as Nicolena Farugia.
Born Nicolina Elizabeth Farruggia in New York on 19 October, 1949. Her father Giuseppe Farruggia was a supervisor for the Penn Central railroad company and her mother, Grazia (Grace) Grassi, a designer with a fashion house. She grew up in Westchester County north of New York City, studied dance, obtained a BA at Fordham University and then an MA in history at Columbia University. She is said to acted in various university productions, studied briefly with Lee Strasberg and then with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. She also followed courses in film editing at the New School in Greenwich Village and acted in off-off-Broadway and dinner theatre productions.
In 1976 she was offered a role in a French television series entitled Les Diamants du Président to be filmed in Nelspruit. The following year she returned to South Africa to act in the film Sharpies (released as Mister Deathman).
She met the South African actor Robert Davies on the set of the French series and married him in 1977. They were subsequently divorced, but then remarried on 28 August 1996.)
Ferugia died in South Africa on 18 January, 2019.
Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance
Together Davies and Ferugia formed a production company called Davnic Productions that made a number of films and documentaries, primarily for television, though their most prestigious production, a version of Paul Slabolepszy award-winning drama Saturday Night at the Palace (1987) directed by Davies, was released in the cinemas.
Amongst her best-known appearances as an actress were in Jamie Uys’s film The Gods Must Be Crazy II (1989) and the first two seasons of the television series Westgate, directed by Edgar Bold. Also highly regarded was the documentary called An African in Paris (2005), about the painter Gerard Sekoto, which she scripted, directed and edited and which was photographed by her husband.
The plays in which she appeared included Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1982), Agnes of God (1983) and Extremities (1984).
In addition she wrote and starred in We and Them (1989), the story of Mrs. Wallis Simpson and her relationship with the Duke of Windsor. This was a two-hander, with Robert Davies playing her taciturn and faithful butler in a 2010 revival at the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square. In 2009 it also has a successful run at the Finborough Theatre in London.
List of credits
1982 – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (actress) (Directed by Aubrey Berg for PACT at the State Theatre in Pretoria and the Alexander Theatre in Johannesburg), 1983 – Agnes of God (actress) (Directed by Nikolas Simmonds for Pieter Toerien at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, the Alhambra Theatre in Johannesburg, the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban), 1984 – Extremities (actress) (Produced by Hugh Wooldridge for Pieter Toerien at the Alhambra Theatre in Johannesburg and the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town), 1989 – We and Them (playwright & actress) (Directed by Ingrid Sonnichson for Davnic Productions in association with Pieter Toerien at the Leonard Rayne Theatre in Johannesburg and the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town), 1995 – The Sisters Rosensweig (actress) (Directed by Alan Swerdlow for Pieter Toerien at the Alhambra Theatre in Johannesburg and the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town).
1977 – Mister Deathman / Sharpies (actress) (Director: Michael D. Moore), 1978 – The Pawn (adapted from the TV series Les Diamants du Président) (actress) (Director: Claude Boissol), 1987 – Saturday Night at the Palace (associate producer + supervising editor) (Director: Robert Davies), 1989 – The Gods Must Be Crazy II (actress) (Director: Jamie Uys), 1990 – The Sandgrass People (actress) (Director: Koos Roets).
1977 – Les Diamants du Président (French TV series) (actress) (Director: Claude Boissol), 1979 – Land of the Thirst King (TV documentary series) (writer & editor) (Director: Robert Davies), 1981 – Westgate (TV series) (actress) (Director: Edgar Bold), 1981 – So Reg na my Smaak (TV documentary) (hosted by Pieter-Dirk Uys), 1982 – Westgate II (TV series) (actress) (Director: Edgar Bold), 1986 – The Fiddler (TV series) (actress) (Director: Ken Leach), 1988 – Double Shift (TV series) (producer with Nomsa Nene) (Director: Robert Davies), 1993 – Tropical Heat / Sweating Bullets (Canadian/American TV series – Episode: May Divorce Be with You) (actress) (Director: Clay Borris), 1995 – Tales of Mystery and Imagination (TV series – Episode: The Oval Portrait) (actress) (Director: Bill Hays), 1996 – Tarzan: the Epic Adventures (TV series – Episode: Tarzan and the Reflections in an Evil Eye) (actress) (Director: George Keith), 2000 – Brothers, Sisters and Strangers (TV documentary) (director & editor), 2000 – Jika Jika (TV series) (writer with David Newton John) (Director: Robert Davies), 2004 – Faith in Resistance (TV documentary series) (director, editor & scriptwriter with Seth Mazibuko), 2005 – An African in Paris (TV documentary) (director, script & editor), 2008 – Diamonds (TV movie) (actress) (Director: Andy Wilson).
Agnes of God programme notes, 1983.
We and Them programme notes, 1989.
Rand Daily Mail, 26 August 1982 (and other issues)
The Star, 28 September 2010.
Die Burger, 22 January 2019.
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