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). He then trained in social work at Liverpool University (1965) and completed an MA based on a dissertation on aspects of psychiatric social work from Leicester University (1970).
Besides his theatrical work (see below), he has worked in child guidance and adult mental health in various parts of the world, including Zimbabwe and Botswana, helped with research into social work with the elderly, and taught at Barnett House, Oxford and the Department of Social Administration, University College, Cardiff, and has published on behaviour theory, interactionist perspectives, mental health advocacy and existentialism in British academic journals.
He settled in Wales, where he later once more became a post graduate student, now in theatre, and continued working as an 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 A Taste of Honey ( Worthing ). In Cardiff he appeared for Everyman Theatre in productions of The Crucible(Miller), The Frogs (Aristophanes); Our Country's Good (Wertenbaker), The 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 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 and performed them 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 (was being written in 2014?) and African Hamlet (was being written 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 Mhlope 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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