Founded in 1965 at Dorkay House by Ian Bernhardt of Union Artists and director Barney Simon to produce Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye. They went on to sponsor black cast shows such as Soweto Ensemble’s Shaka (directed by Corney Mabaso, 1968) and Phiri (a celebrated local version of Jonson’s Volpone, adapted and directed by Barney Simon, 1972). In 197* they collaborated with Mabaso to produce the variety show Isuntu, which went on to tour Japan (as Meropa) and England (as KwaZulu). Despite the personal commitment of the white members of Phoenix Players to furthering the work of black performers, directors and producers and some excellent work produced, there was much criticism from BCM members because of the perceived preferment given to white members of the company. Phoenix Players: They were an offshoot of Union Artists. Together with CAPAB and PACT, they staged Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena and People are Living There, both directed by Fugard and starring Yvonne Bryceland and Glyn Day in 1970. Barney Simon directed Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona’s workshopped play, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, starring Kani and Ntshona. It was brought to Johannesburg by Ian Bernhardt for the Players and was staged at the Men’s Common Room at Wits University in November 1972. Corney Mabaso was artistic director and Percy Tucker a trustee of the Players circa 1974. They performed in the black musical Meropa, previously called Isintu, which toured to Japan and the Far East. Brickhill-Burke reworked this play and reopened His Majesty’s with it on the 3 December 1974. **** (Tucker, 1997; Kruger, 1999) [TH]
In the PACT/CAPAB's, in association with Phoenix Players, productions programme notes in 19**: 'Phoenix Players is the performing arts arm of Union Artists - the organisation that caters for the cultural interests of Non-Europeans in Transvaal.
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