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GAYNOR YOUNG HONOURED (article first published : 2004-11-24)

At a glitzy evening last night (November 22) at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, the who’s who of Durban theatre gathered to celebrate the achievements of the winners of the Durban Theatre Awards.

This is the second event of its kind since the Durban theatre community decided to go it alone without major sponsorship. The evening was made possible by sponsorship from the Bartel Arts Trust. Further valuable financial assistance was received from Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) as support funding for sponsorship from La Lucia Mall, Essenwood Craft Market and Troubadour Productions in the form of gift vouchers for the winners of the main Durban Theatre Awards.

The judges of the Durban Theatre Award have the capacity to make a special award to someone who they feel deserves strong recognition. This year, the award went to actress Gaynor Young, an announcement that was received by a standing ovation from the audience.

The citation read as follows:

“Every single person in the entertainment industry in South Africa must be aware of Gaynor Young’s horrific fall of 18 metres down an unguarded lift shaft during a production of Camelot at the State Theatre when she had taken over as understudy at short notice.

This was 15 years ago. Doctors said she would never walk or talk again but her innate strength and faith - considerably assisted by her loving and incredibly supportive family - proved those doctors wrong.

Not only is she walking and talking but she has returned to the stage – not once, but twice - with her own shows: My Plunge to Fame and Gaynor Rising.

For any performer, live theatre provides a major battle with nerves. Also, as one legendary theatre director once remarked in response to a question from an actor regarding his motivation: “Remember your lines and don’t bump into the furniture”.

Now, imagine this kind of pressure when you are profoundly deaf, your memory is not always reliable, you no longer have the same control over your limbs as you used to … and your speech has been affected.

This award is presented to Gaynor – not so much for her extraordinary and virtually miraculous victory over her severe injuries – but for her determination not to allow physical challenges to get in her way, to continue doing what she knows she does best – act - and for her sheer passion for theatre.”

In addition to her award certificate, Gaynor Young received a gift voucher for the Essenwood Craft Market presented by Jethro Brown.




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