Mannie Manim

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Mannie Manim (born 1941). Lighting designer and theatre administrator.


Co-founder of the Market Theatre, Trustee of the Market Theatre Foundation, a member of the Executive Committee of the South African Association of Theatre Managements, on the Drama Committee for the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, founder member of the Executive committee of Committed Artists and a Governor of the FUBA Academy. 1980 received the Shirley Moss Award for the Greatest Practical and Technical Contribution to Theatre in South Africa, in 1981 the South African Institute of Theatre Technology Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Theatre Technician, Administrator and Lighting designer, and in 1985 the first Vita Award for the most Enterprising producer. In December 1990 he was made Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres by the French government. Was director of the Performing Arts Administration at Witwatersrand University.


Born Manuel Manim in Cape Town, he began in theatre as an usher in the Brian Brooke Theatre at 15, went into stage management with Leonard Schach at the Hofmeyr in Cape Town, then managed the Playhouse for Leonard Rayne and returned to the Brooke Theatre as stage director.

Theatre Management

After working for a few other companies in Johannesburg, including Theatre International, he joined PACT at the age of 26, as the technical organizer for drama at of the state funded Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT), went on to become production manager and ultimately manager of drama, with Francois Swart as Artistic Director. Did a brilliant job in a period still considered the golden era of Afrikaans theatre and one of the best periods in the history of the Performing Arts Councils.

A dynamic yet meticulous planner, with a visionary view of South African theatre, he in 1973 joined with Barney Simon to found The Company and in 1976 they opened the Market Theatre. He was also one of the Trustees of the Market Theatre Foundation. Manim effectively ran the Market Theatre from then till he left in 1991 to found his own company (Mannie Manim Productions) (1991-) and to take up the post of Director Performing Arts Administration at the University of the Witwatersrand, effectively running the Wits Theatre Complex (1991-2000). In 2000 he became CEO and Director of the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and also the Chairman of the Standard Bank National Arts Festival Board. He retired from this position in 2009, to be replaced by Lara Foot-Newton. Then appointed Executive Director of the new Fugard Theatre in Harrington Street (2010-2012).

He was also a co-founder and board member of the South African Institute for Theatre Technology (SAITT) in 1969 and the South African Association of Theatre Managements (SAATM)?*, ***.

Lighting design and stage management

Throughout his career he did freelance work (usually as lighting designer), e.g. lighting the first production staged at The Space in 1972, namely Athol Fugard’s Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act. In fact, beginning at the Alexander Theatre in the 1970s, he has lit every one of Athol Fugard’s plays produced in South Africa for the past three decades. And, despite the many management positions, Manim remained a prolific and higly regarded lighting designer in South Africa and elsewhere, working all over South Africa and in places like Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, London and Stockholm over the years.

He was production and company manager for Stephen Sondheim’s musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (the Johannesburg Civic, 1964); With John Hussey he co-directed The Company’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular (the Market Theatre, November 1977); produced Sly Fox (The Company at the Market Theatre, 1979), Death of a Salesman, (2001); Sorrows and Rejoicings (Baxter, 2001); Race (Mamet, Grahamstown Festival, 2012 & 2013)Die Laaste Karretjiegraf (Fugard Theatre, 2013), The Shadow of the Hummingbird (Fugard Theatre, 2014).

Lighting design for Playland in 1992. He also did the lightning for Die Vuurvoël.


His numerous national and international awards over the years for his lighting designs and his management skills. The South African awards include the Shirley Moss Award (1980), the SATI Award (1981), 10 Vita Awards for lighting, numerous Fleur du Cap Awards, the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns Goue Medalje ("Gold medal", 1996) and the Naledi Award of the SA Association of Theatre Managers (2004). International awards include In 1990 the French Government conferred the Chevalier des Artes et Lettres on him.

Vita Award presented to Mannie Manim for his contribution to the success of The War at Home. (NELM:[Collection: MANIM, Mannie]: 2010. 38. 13. 4. 1. 2.).


Programme, Die Laaste Karretjiegraf (2013)

Playland programme notes, 1992.

Tucker, 1997.

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