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STEVEN STEAD PAYS TRIBUTE TO JOHN MOSS (article first published : 2008-09-16)

Durban director Steven Stead, who runs the successful KickstArt theatre company with designer Greg King, pays tribute to his mentor and friend, John Moss.

I loved John Moss very much, says Steven Stead. And I have so much to thank him for. He not only gave me my first professional job back in 1982, but is probably largely responsible for my working in the theatre at all. It was his glorious pantomimes and excellent, carefully-considered traditional dramas that I saw in my childhood that captured my imagination and made me want to make the theatre my life.

He was a second father to me, a mentor, a friend, an inspiration, and - that so rare, so under-valued thing in this modern world - a gentleman. They really did break the mould when they made him. And he can never be replaced.

I will miss his gentle, careful, funny advice every year come panto-writing time, and I will miss sending him our programmes for his amusement and approval. I will carry so many memories of him with me for the rest of my life: of pouring over photos and programmes and home movies from "19-voetsek", of long talks about opera and pantomime and plays, and the folk who made them, of walks along the seafront or over the downs around Hove in UK where he lived after he left South Africa. And of Scrabble games in which he would effortlessly, and self-effacingly, trounce us all!

I am sad beyond telling that he has, like the White Knight in the Alice books, fallen asleep never to wake again. There is a great John-shaped hole in my world that I don't believe can ever be filled.




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