Michael Picardie

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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.

After retirement, he continued to live in Wales working as an actor and theatre writer, and 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).

Contribution to theatre, film, media and performance in South Africa

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),

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).

As playwright

His plays "Debbie Come Home" and "Whiteman" were produced on BBC TV and ITV in London (1961 - 1962).

His play " Shades of Brown" was produced in London in 1979 with Antony Sher as Captain Jaap Van Tonder for which Sher was nominated for an Evening Standard award, with the author playing Jannie Veldsman."Ancestors and Diamonds" was performed at the Northcott Theatre Exeter which also revived "Shades of Brown" . "Shades of Brown" was translated and performed in Denmark, Sweden and Norway in the early 1980's. It played in New York, Toronto, Brussels and at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in 1980 with Dale Cutts and Bill Curry. At its student performance earlier that year at the Asoka Theatre at the University in Durban the Special Branch filmed the cast and the audience and the director stopped the show.

"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."Towards a Philosophy of Theatre...."(University of South Wales 14/4/14) published with a new critical commentary as The Classical and the Modern in Three South African Plays by Lap-Lambert, Saarbrucken, Germany (2015. Other plays include "Mandela's Child" and "African Hamlet" (the latter is still being written). His story "I Had a Black Man" was published in Africa South and his poetry "Trance Dance for the Cape KhoiSan" appeared in New Coin. "Shades of Brown" was published in Market Plays (Ad. Donker 1986).

His publications:

(1960) “The Anatomy of Afrikaner Nationalism” Twentieth Century London, Summer, June 1960

(1961) Whiteman Prospect Theatre , directed by Adrian Brine Oxford Playhouse unpublished theatre script

(1962) Whiteman Associated-Rediffusion directed by Ronald Marriot London, unpublished TV script.

(1963) Debbie Go Home adapted from the short story by Alan Paton, BBC Television: unpublished TV script

(1974) In the Gap: the social psychology of a mental disorder and its treatment through psychiatric social work. Leicester University: unpublished M.A.dissertation

(1974) “A Metaphysical Order in Psychiatric Work” The Human Context. London: Chaucer Publishing Co: 6,1, pp 156-65

(1974) “Family Processes and Schizophrenia” Book review:The Human Context London: Chaucer Publishing Co. 6,2, pp.455-8

(1976) “Understanding schizophrenia” Social Work Today 7,6,pp169-171

(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) “Young Zimbabwe – political consciousness amongst Bulawayo secondary school pupils” Cardiff University, Department of Sociology, Social Work and Social Policy. Unpublished paper.

(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.

(1989/1990) “Interviews with Gcina Mhlophe” Johannesburg: Unpublished manuscript.

(1995-1997) “Lecture notes on developmental and social psychology and social psychiatry for social work and social policy students” The School of Social Work, University of Botswana, Gaberone. Unpublished manuscripts.

(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.

(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


Private correspondence from Michael Picardy to Temple Hauptfleisch, Monday 2015/07/06 10:46 PM.

The Michael Picardy website at http://michaelpicardie.co.uk/main.php.