Buhle Ngaba (25) and David Viviers (23) won the final Brett Goldin Bursary award at an event held at the Baxter Theatre Centre on Friday, 20 May, a decade since the young actor’s brutal murder over the Easter weekend in 2006.
Buhle and David were among the six finalists selected from a shortlist of 16, out of more than 60 applications received from all over South Africa, through a rigorous audition process which took place over three days. The other four finalists were Sihle Mnqwazana, Kiroshan Naidoo, Skye Russell and William Harding.
“This is an incredible honour. I can hardly believe it, and to be involved with this tribute to Brett’s life, is especially meaningful for me,” said an elated Viviers, who graduated with a BA in Theatre and Performance from the University of Cape Town’s Drama Department in 2014.
Earlier this year he received a Kanna Award for Best Debut Work (which he shared with Wessel Pretorius) as well as a Kanna nomination for Best Upcoming Performer, at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK). His theatre performances include Klara Maas Se Haart Is Gebreek, The Maids, Raiders, Salt, Twelfth Night at the Macbeths and Much Ado About Nothing. In 2015 he was nominated for a Fleur du Cap Most Promising Student and also received the Ruth Peffers Prize for Most Promising Student at UCT. In 2014 he received the Standard Bank Ovation Award for his performance in Salt at the National Arts Festival.
Buhle Ngaba, 25, was a finalist for the Brett Goldin bursary in 2014. She is an actress, playwright, storyteller and author. She studied acting and contemporary performance at Rhodes University as well as Processes of Performance at the University of Leeds in the UK. Her theatre performances include John Kani’s Missing… , Blood Brothers, Through Blue, The Dogs Must be Crazy, Eco-Wolf and the Three Pigs, Hush and Ikrismesi Eposini. She was nominated for both a Fleur du Cap and a Naledi award (Best Supporting Actress in a play) for her role in Missing…
The Brett Goldin Bursary was set up immediately after the young actor and his friend, fashion designer Richard Bloom, both 28, were killed over the Easter weekend on 16 April 2006, just days before he was due to leave for Stratford-upon-Avon. He was to perform the role of Guildenstern in the Baxter’s production of Hamlet, directed by Janet Suzman, which launched the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival. The double murder sent shockwaves throughout South Africa and England.
The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Actors Centre in Johannesburg and the Baxter Theatre Centre established the bursary, which was kick-started by donations from respected South African-born actor Sir Antony Sher and Honorary RSC Associate Dame Janet Suzman to give another young actor the opportunity which Brett was denied and to honour his memory in an appropriate manner.
“Since this bursary was first initiated I have always been overwhelmed and overjoyed by the wealth of young talent and performers that South Africa is blessed with. This year was no exception. The final six actors were all so incredibly strong and passionate which makes it so difficult for me and the other judges. It is heartbreaking to have to decide on only two winners because I found all the final six worthy of this opportunity.” – Denise Goldin, mother of the late Brett Goldin.
The bursary is for a short post-graduate course designed to enhance and fine-tune actors who are committed to the need and desire to expand their knowledge and acting ability of Shakespeare. Furthermore, on their return they should be willing to use the skills gained to enthuse and encourage others towards a love and understanding of Shakespeare.
The two bursars will travel to the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, birthplace of the world’s most famous playwright, for one month, from July until August.
The panel of judges for this year’s auditions were award-winning actress Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Zabalaza Theatre Festival artistic director, Thami Mbongo and Creative Director of Kunste Onbeperk, Hugo Theart, as well as Denise Goldin.