Elizabeth Sneddon

 

The legacy of Professor Elizabeth Sneddon, doyenne of speech and drama in South Africa, lives on today in the thousands of students she taught and the people she influenced. She founded eight theatres and directed more than 70 productions in Durban, showing a particular bias in promoting her favourite playwright, William Shakespeare. In addition to creating one of the first speech and drama departments in the country at the former University of Natal, she was influential in the establishment of drama departments in Pietermaritzburg and Durban-Westville, and several of her graduates went on to head those departments and others in the country. She was largely instrumental in getting the education authorities to introduce speech and drama as a subject at high schools throughout the country. She placed no racial restrictions on theatres she controlled, and was largely instrumental in persuading Welcome Msomi to write the Zulu version of Macbeth, called Umabatha, that made a huge hit in both Britain and America. She taught African students privately on Saturday mornings during the early years of segregation. She died in Durban at the age of 98 in 2005.

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