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TOKOLOSHE IN CHICAGO (article first published : 2004-12-6)

Pieter Scholtzís play for young audiences, Tokoloshe, is being presented by The Theatre School at DePaul University as part of its Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences through November and December 2004.

At a function on December 4, the play's director, South African-born Ann Wakefield presented a scene from the play Tokoloshe. Formerly married to Pieter Scholtz, Ann was a lecturer at the then University of Natalís speech and drama department and well-known for her many appearances in a wide variety of productions as well as those she directed.

Also present at the function in Chicago, Pieter Scholtz read a brief excerpt from his book, the recently published Tales of the Tokoloshe.

Chalking up over 30 years in the theatre, Pieter Scholtz has directed many productions ranging from classical to contemporary drama. He was instrumental in the creation of several theatres at the University of Natal in Durban, including the Open-Air Theatre (now named the Pieter Scholtz Open-Air Theatre), the Square Space Theatre, and the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, which operated as the drama laboratory for the Theatre School during its first ten years.

Pieter retired in 1995 after 23 years as Professor and Head of the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Natal. He started his career in the theatre in the early 60's, and during his tenure as a lecturer and senior lecturer (under the leadership of Professor Elizabeth Sneddon), he received many awards for acting, directing and for his contribution to theatre in Natal from the Durban Critics Circle.

The first of two theatrical career highlights occurred in 1964 when he was cast as Hamlet in NAPAC's inaugural Shakespeare production, directed by the distinguished British director, Norman Marshall, for the Shakespeare Quarter Centenary Celebrations. Secondly, in 1972 he created and directed the acclaimed Zulu production of Umabatha (the Zulu "Macbeth"), which played to capacity houses at the World Theatre Season at the Aldwych Theatre in London.

He has written and published 27 plays for young audiences which have been presented by schools and youth theatre groups in South Africa and abroad. He received the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award in 1979 and again in 1980 for the first two plays in his Tambootie series. In 1997 he opened the Kwasuka Theatre in Greyville, Durban.

Converted from a century-old Methodist church building, the intimate, fully equipped theatre presents and actively promotes professional theatre productions for young and old ("Kwasuka Sukela" is a phrase used by Zulu storytellers when beginning a story, meaning "Once upon a time*").

Pieter Scholtz has completed two novels - Ezekiel's Quest (to be published in 2005) is the story of a Bushman youth who makes a journey of discovery in the Kalahari desert. The Sacrifice of Kali is based on an early play he wrote for young audiences about the Demon of the Curry Powders.

His book of short stories titled Tales of the Tokoloshe (published by Struik) came out in August, and includes 12 short stories continuing the adventures of the Tokoloshe, the fun-loving, impudent and precocious mythological sprite from southern African folklore.

For more information about the play, visit http://theatreschool.depaul.edu




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