Paul Slabolepszy

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Paul Slabolepszy (1948-). Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter, Director.


Born in Bolton, England in 1948, his family emigrated to South Africa when Paul was aged 3. He then grew up in a number of small towns around South Africa, including Modderfontein, Witbank and Musina.

Paul lives in Johannesburg with his wife, Carol. They have three children.


He completed a B.A. (Drama) degree at the University of Cape Town

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Founder member of SA’s first non-racial theatre company, the The Space in Cape Town (with Athol Fugard, John Kani and Yvonne Bryceland) in 1972.

In Johannesburg (with Mannie Manim and Barney Simon) he was a founder member of the world famous Market Theatre Company in 1976.

As actor

As an actor, Paul has appeared in well over 100 stage and TV plays, as well as 15 feature films. Highlights include - Frederick Courtney Selous in Rhodes (for the BBC) and Jan Christiaan Smuts, in The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma [1]. He appeared as Biff in Death of a Salesman, Chance Wayne in Sweet Bird of Youth, Kaspar in Pieter Handke’s Kaspar, Smitty in Fortune and Men's Eyes, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Chandebise/Poche in A Flea in Her Ear, Eddie in his own play The Return of Elvis du Pisanie.

As playwright

With over thirty plays to his credit, Paul is arguably (after Athol Fugard) South Africa’s foremost playwright, his work having been performed in the UK, the USA, Germany, France, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and the Middle East.

PLAYS: 1979 – Renovations; 1980 – The Defloration of Miles Koekemoer; 1982 – Saturday Night at the Palace; 1983 – Karoo Grand, 1984 - Under the Oaks; 1985 – Over the Hill; 1986 – Boo to the Moon; Making Like America; 1988 – Travelling Shots; 1989 – Smallholding; 1990 – One for the High Jump, The Eyes of their Whites; 1991 – Braait Laaities; 1992 – Mooi Street Moves, The Return of Elvis du Pisanie; 1993 – Pale Natives; 1994 – Victoria Almost Falls, Tickle to Fine Leg; 1995 – Heel Against the Head; 1996 – Once a Pirate, 1997 – Going for the Jocular, Fordsburg's Finest; 1998 – Planet Perth, Life's a Pitch, 2000 – Crashing the Night; 2001 – Running Riot; 2002 – It's Just Not Cricket!; 2003 – Whole in One; 2005 – Art of Charf (Lady Lonely Hearts); 2006 – Not the Big Easy; 2008 – For Your Ears Only; 2008 – Freak Country; 2016 – Suddenly the Storm.

Paul has had six World Premieres at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Saturday Night at the Palace went on to perform at London’s Old Vic Theatre in 1984. The Eyes of their Whites (co-written and co-performed with David Kramer) received acclaim at the 1990 Edinburgh Festival, and Mooi Street Moves. Once a Pirate (starring Seputla Sebogodi) was part of the Lincoln Centre’s Woza Africa Festival in New York City in July, 1997

In December, 2013 – Artscape (in Cape Town) produced a rework of an earlier play – Victoria Almost Falls (now titled My Low-Fat, Almost Italian Wedding with Graham Hopkins, James Cairns). In May, 2014 the Market Theatre, Johannesburg produced a ‘20th Anniversary Production’ of his hit 1994 play, Pale Natives.

SCREENPLAYS: 1986 - Saturday Night at the Palace (adapted from the play) – Merit Award AFI FEST, Los Angeles 1987, TAORMINA Best Actor - John Kani; 1998 -Heel Against the Head (adapted from the play); 2003 - Swansong for Charlie (based on own play Over the Hill); 2006 - Running Riot.

For Leon Schuster, Paul wrote the screenplay for OH, SHUCKS – HERE COMES UNTAG (1989), and contributed substantially to SWEET & SHORT and MAMA JACK (2005); other co-written screenplays include VAN DER MERWE P.I. (for Philo Pieterse), PRINCE OF PRETORIA (for Franz Marx) and TAXI TO SOWETO (for Edgar Bold, Manie van Rensburgg).

FOR TELEVISION – co-wrote SENIOR SMITH (13-part series, SABC), also on many episodes on various series’ – among them SCOOP SCOOMBIE (original concept – for Roberta Durrant), MADAM & EVE, PEOPLE LIKE US (with Gray Hofmeyr); SWANSONG FOR CHARLIE – an MNET Made-for-TV Movie, directed and produced by Bobby Heaney. In 2008 - Head Writer on a SABC2 Drama Series (HILLSIDE), for Aubrey Sekhabi; In 2009 - conceived, created and wrote KONSTERNASIE OPPIE STASIE (13 part sitcom for SABC2), directed and produced by Bobby Heaney.

FOR RADIO – several of his plays have been adapted for radio and broadcast by SAfm (SABC), among them Under the Oaks, Over the Hille, Art of Charf and Whole in One. Since 2014 Paul has been Head Writer on a daily serial on SAfm called RADIO VUKA. In 2017 the series went past the Episode 2,100 mark.

Awards, etc

In 1983, Paul received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award.

Numerous awards for Stage include Biff in Death of a Salesman, Chance Wayne in Sweet Bird of Youth, Kaspar in Pieter Handke’s Kaspar, Smitty in Fortune and Men's Eyes (where he won his first DALRO Best Actor Award in 1976), As Eddie, in his own play The Return of Elvis du Pisanie, he became the first actor in SA to win every Best Actor Award nationwide in a single year (Vita, Fleur du Cap and DALRO, 1993).

Awards for his plays include Saturday Night at the Palace (Amstel, Vita & Fleur du Cap Best Play); 1983, 1985 – Over the Hill (DALRO Best Play); Making Like America (Vita Best Play); 1989 – Smallholding (Vita Best Play); 1991 – Braait Laaities (Pick of the Fringe, Grahamstown Fest); 1992 – Mooi Street Moves (Paper Boat Best Play Award, Glasgow MayFest), The Return of Elvis du Pisanie (Vita, Fleur du Cap and DALRO Best Play); Heel Against the Head (Vita, Star Tonight Best Comedy); Suddenly the Storm (Naledi Best New South African Script 2016/17).

Mooi Street Moves was invited to the Teater der Weld Festival in Germany and the Images of Africa Festival in Denmark, in 1993. The same play won the Paper Boat Award at the Glasgow MayFest in 1994.

In March, 1993 Paul was invited to do a four week study tour of American Theatres with a group of international drama practitioners as part of the USA International Visitor Program.


CV provided by Paul Slabolepszy, October 2017.

For more in formation

Wikipedia [2].

IMDb [3].

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