Michael Picardie (1936-) is a South African born academic, actor and playwright.
He was born in Johannesburg in 1936, where he grew up and was trained in theatre by Muriel Alexander from the age of 11 to 16, and winning Eisteddfod medals for acting. He later studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, obtaining a B.A. in Politics, English, and African Studies (1957) and a B.A.Hons in Politics (1958). Besides his theatrical work he has worked as an academic and social worker in London , Oxford , Cardiff , Johannesburg and Botswana; teaching and writing academic articles. In 1974 he completed an M.A.dissertation in * at Leicester University.
When he eventually returned to the UK he settled in Wales, where he became a post graduate student, working actor and playwright. He completed a masters degree in Theatre, Film and T.V. Studies (with a thesis entitled The Drama and Theatre of Two South African Plays Under Apartheid) at Abystwyth University (2009) and a Ph.D. at the same university (2014).
Besides his writing for theatre, film and TV, he has also written poetry and prose, including I Had a Black Man, a story published in Africa South and Trance Dance for the Cape KhoiSan, poetry which appeared in New Coin.
Contribution to theatre, film, media and performance in South Africa
As an actor
After his initial training with Muriel Alexander, he gained stage experience at the University of the Witwatersrand where he did a B.A. in Politics, English, and African Studies (1957) and a B.A.Hons in Politics (1958). While there he acted for the Wits University Players in Julius Caesar (Shakespeare), The Duchess of Malfi (Webster) ") and The Male Animal (James Thurber), The Long and the Short and the Tall,
He also at the time appeared in Under Milk Wood (Dylan Thomas) and Much Ado about Nothing (Shakespeare) (both for the Johannesburg Reps), Oedipus at Colonus for the Oxford University Dramatic Society (1958), The Tempest (in Johanneburg, directed by Cecil Williams in 1953 and in Cape Town , directed by André van Gyseghem in 1959), The Rape of the Belt (Cape Town, directed by Van Gyseghem, 1959) and Tobias and the Angel (directed by Robert Atkins in London, 1960). Also appeared in Hello and Goodbye (Fugard) and The Boy in Taste of Honey ( Worthing ). In Cardiff he appeared for Everyman Theatre in productions of The Crucible(Miller), The Frogs (Aristophanes); Our Country's Good, Caucasian Chalk Circle (Brecht), Tiny Alice (Albee), Hello and Goodbye (Fugard), Boesman and Lena. He also played Shorty in People are Living There (Fugard) for the Sherman Arena Company.
Besides the above, he also performed in a number of his own plays, including the roles of Jannie Veldsman Shades of Brown (London and Wales), Jaaks in Springbok (Cardiff) and has toured with his one-man performances of his plays Shaloma and The Zulu and the Zeide (Cardiff , Leeds, Nottingham and London). In the years 2000-2013 he adapted and performed some of the stories of Etgar Keret, as well as his own story May You Grow Like An Onion With Your Head In The Ground in England and Wales.
As a playwright
His plays and scripts include:
Whiteman (1961), Shades of Brown (1978), Springbok (1979), Jo’burg Messiah(1980), The Cape Orchard (1987), Ancestors and Diamonds (1988), Shaloma (2003), The Zulu and the Zeide (2004), Mandela's Child (2014?) and African Hamlet (2015?).
Three of his plays have been published as part of the portfolio/critical commentary which formed part of his Ph.D. thesis.
Radio, TV and Film scripts:
Debbie Go Home (BBC Television, 1962), Whiteman (Associated-Rediffusion TV, 1962), Jannie Veldsman And His Struggle With The Boer (BBC Radio 4, 1982), Jannie Veldsman – A Film Scenario – unpublished script (2012)
As a director
2008: Waiting for Godot (Beckett) for Everyman Theatre, Cardiff at Chapter Theatre (13-17 May).
20** Boesman and Lena (Fugard) for Everyman Theatre, Cardiff
As an academic
Of more immediate interest here however is his post=graduate work in theatre, which began with an M.Phil. (Department of Theatre, Film and T.V., Aberystwyth University) on "The Drama and Theatre of Two South African Plays Under Apartheid" (22/9/2009). It looks at the works by Fatima Dike and Gcina Mhlophe and contains a psychoanalytic and post-structuralist analysis of theatre generally, which is elaborated on in his Ph.D. thesis (which was published as The Classical and the Modern in Three South African Plays by Lap-Lambert, Saarbrucken, Germany, in 2015).
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NOTES FOR EDITING
"The Cape Orchard" toured England and Wales and came to the Young Vic Theatre in 1987 produced by the Foco Novo Theatre Company. He played in Albee's Tiny Alice, in Fugard's "Hello and Goodbye" and directed and performed in "Boesman and Lena" for Everyman Theatre in Cardiff. He played Shorty in People are Living There also by Fugard for the Sherman Arena Company. He has toured his one-man performances "Shaloma", "The Zulu and the Zeide" (inspired by Dan Jacobson's story of that name) based on adaptations from the novel See Under Love by David Grossman ("Momik"), He has dramatised and enacted some of the stories of Etgar Keret, and his own story "May You Grow Like An Onion With Your Head In The Ground" in England and Wales during the years 2000-2013. He has an M.Phil. (Aberystwyth University) on "The Drama and Theatre of Two South African Plays Under Apartheid" (22/9/2009) - about Fatima Dike and Gcina Mhlophe whom he interviewed as part of a cross-section of South African women theatre writers including Clare Stopford, Aletta Bezuitenhout, Reza De Wet, Susan Pam-Grant, Saira Essa, Phyllis Klotz and Poppy Tsira. It contains a psychoanalytic and post-structuralist analysis of theatre generally which is elaborated and put into a wider context in his Ph.D.
Three of his plays are contained in a portfolio/critical commentary for a Ph.D. entitled "Towards a Philosophy of Theatre...."(University of South Wales 14/4/14) This was later published, with a new critical commentary, as The Classical and the Modern in Three South African Plays (published by Lap-Lambert, Saarbrucken, Germany, 2015). Other plays include "Mandela's Child" and "African Hamlet" (the latter is still being written).
(1979/1980) Springbok Sherman Arena Company, Cardiff, directed by John Lindstrum, unpublished theatre script.
(1980/1981) Jo’burg Messiah Sherman Arena Company, Cardiff, directed by John Lindstrum, unpublished theatre script played at the Oxford / Observer Festival of Theatre.
(1982) Jannie Veldsman And His Struggle With The Boer BBC Radio 4 "The Monday Play" directed by Christopher Venning unpublished radio script broadcast 8.00 p.m. 11/1/82.
(1978/1979/1980/1981/1982/ 1983/ 1985/1986/2010) Shades of Brown in Stephen Gray (ed.) Market Plays Craighall Park, Johannesburg: Ad. Donker, pp74-107 played in Cardiff and Wales, Leeds, Oxford, Salisbury, London, Durban, Johanneburg, Nairobi, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Stavanger, Cambridge England, Oslo, Brussels, New York, Cincinnati, Toronto, German and Swiss tour, Mold Wales, Exeter, Plymouth, The Africa Centre, King Street, London, Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff
(1987/2012) The Cape Orchard. Foco Novo Theatre Co, London, directed by Roland Rees: unpublished playscript touring Plymouth, Exeter, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Norwich and the Young Vic, London in November / December 1987.
(1988) Ancestors and Diamonds. Northcott Theatre, Exeter. Unpublished playscript directed by Martin Harvey.
(2003/2004) Shaloma: a one-man play.Everyman Theatre Cardiff, International Festival of Jewish Theatre, Leeds, Limmud at Nottingham University, Pinner Liberal Synagogue, London, Cardiff Methodist Church, Cyncoed Cardiff.
(2004) The Zulu and the Zeide: a play inspired by the short story of Dan Jacobson. Everyman Theatre Cardiff; University Theatre, Limmud at Nottingham University; International Jewish Festival of Theatre, Leeds.
Michael Picardie. 2009. The Drama and Theatre of Two South African Plays Under Apartheid Dept of Theatre, Film and T.V. Studies: Aberystwyth University Electronic Depository: Unpublished M.Phil. dissertation
(2012) Jannie Veldsman – A Film Scenario – unpublished script
Michael Picardie. 2014. The Drama and Theatre of Two South African Plays Under Apartheid Dept of Theatre, Film and T.V. Studies: Aberystwyth University Electronic Depository: Unpublished M.Phil. dissertation