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The Market Square’s new Brett Goldin Boardroom

Artlooks & Artlines is a monthly column written by Ismail Mahomed, CEO of the Market Theatre Foundation.

In the entrance hall of the impressive new Market Square building which houses the Market Theatre’s administrative offices, the Market Theatre Laboratory and the Market Photo Workshop, it is a portrait of the late South African actor, Brett Goldin, that grabs a visitor’s attention.

At 28, Brett Goldin was a passionate and talented artist with huge dreams of having his name written in lights; he had been cast to perform the role of Guildenstern in the Baxter Theatre’s production of Hamlet, directed by Janet Suzman. The production was to be presented in William Shakespeare‘s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, to launch the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival. Goldin’s life was sadly cut short. His body, together with that of his friend, upcoming fashion designer Richard Bloom, was discovered on Sunday 16 April 2006. The two were found with single shots to the head in Mowbray, Cape Town after they had left a party in the trendy Camps Bay area. The double murder sent shockwaves throughout South Africa and England. Soon after the murder, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the Actors Centre in Johannesburg and the Baxter Theatre Centre established the Brett Goldin Bursary, 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 that Brett was denied and to honour his memory in an appropriate manner. The first recipient of the Brett Goldin Bursary was Omphile Molusi whose play Itsoseng returned last month for a highly acclaimed season at the Market Theatre. The production is now running into its tenth year.

The Market Theatre asked some of the beneficiaries of the Brett Goldin Bursary to share their thoughts.

Artlooks & Artlines
Denise Goldin (right) at the opening of the Brett Goldin Boardroom

This year is the last year in the life of the ten-year-old bursary. While it will cease to exist, the Market Theatre Foundation will continue to keep Brett Goldin’s memory alive with the boardroom at Market Square that is named after the actor. ‘We wanted to pay homage to a promising career that was cut short. Brett Goldin was a passionate thespian and a dreamer of infinite opportunities,’ said James Ngcobo, Artistic Director of the Market Theatre Foundation. ‘Most of the rooms at the Market Square building are named after older theatremakers, but the Brett Goldin boardroom honours our memory of an actor who represented a dreamer, and most exciting ideas/dreams are put to work in boardrooms,’ concluded Ngcobo. Earlier last month, the Market Theatre invited the late actor’s mother, Denise Goldin, to a reception at the Brett Goldin Boardroom. That afternoon, she wrote on her Facebook page, ‘A very special reception of the opening of the Brett Goldin Boardroom at the Market Theatre. Ismail Mahomed’s welcoming address, filled with warmth and tribute, touched all of us deeply. This beautiful boardroom and the entire building is vibrantly decorated, modern, classy and magnificently planned – conducive to the performing arts. The palpable togetherness of the entire team and their combined energy bodes well for the future actors of our city. Huge thanks to Ismail and the board for this unexpected, poignant recognition.’ 

Ismail Mahomed’s welcoming address, filled with warmth and tribute, touched all of us deeply.

Artlooks & Artlines
Kate Liquorish

The Market Theatre asked some of the beneficiaries of the Brett Goldin Bursary to share their thoughts.

‘The Brett Goldin Bursary was a turning point in the story of my life that brought a lot of hope and light. The Bursary spoke for me. The Bursary easily opened more doors I’d never imagined would open. The Bursary gave me a platform where my voice would be listened to and acknowledged. I will forever be grateful,’ said Omphile Molusi, playwright, teacher and actor and the winner of the inaugural bursary.

Kate Liquorish said, ‘The Brett Goldin Bursary afforded me a once in a lifetime opportunity; complete immersion at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). To work with, and be exposed to, the minds of such accomplished directors, voice coaches and actors at the RSC was a gift. It has not changed the course of my career per se but has rather forever changed the way I approach theatrical text in performance and the way I approach my body and voice as tools in performance, in other words, it has changed me as an actor. I am forever grateful.’

For actor David Viviers, the bursary offered him his first visit overseas. ‘I had never been overseas before I was awarded the Brett Goldin Bursary. To be immersed in another country and its rhythms, art and people was an experience all on its own. Then, to be surrounded by, observe and be taught by veterans like Cicely Berry, Greg Doran, Janet Suzman and Sir Anthony Sher, was something I never imagined would happen to me. Apart from this being an incredible privilege, it also removed some of the “loftiness” surrounding the whole thing, and showed me how much we actually have going for us in South Africa,’ he said.

There is no doubt that for the young beneficiaries of the bursary the experience will remain with them for their whole lifetime. ‘My experience at the RSC in 2012 will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was a month that helped form who I am as an actor today. It served to reveal to me certain truths and mysteries of our industry and the creation and performance of Shakespearean text. I shall never forget the people I met and the training I received. I believe that this may be in tune with the ethos behind the Brett Goldin Bursary. I will forever be grateful to those who so generously granted me this Bursary. It was an experience in honour of a much brighter star who was stopped short of realising this same dream,’ said actor Timothy Redpath.

While the Brett Goldin Bursary has now run its full course, the Brett Goldin Boardroom at the Market Square will continue to inspire many people in the South African industry. More-so, with a boardroom now named to honour his memory, it will inspire the decision-makers and policymakers who shape the lives and careers of young actors.

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