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MPUMELELO PAUL GROOTBOOM (article first published : 2005-01-26)

Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom is the winner of the 2005 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama. Born in 1975 in Meadowlands, he registered for a BSc at the University of the Witwatersrand on the strength of his matric results.

Paul soon realised that science was not for him, and he embarked on a career that straddled his passions for film and writing. His parents were devastated as they felt that he would not get any recognition for what he did and that he would never be able to support himself.

In 1993, John Rogers of Bataleur Films contacted Paul about a script that he had submitted. Subsequent to this first meeting, Rogers became Paul's mentor - offering him unlimited advice and guidance. "Thanks to John's mentorship, I have come a long way since that first film script" says Paul.

Rogers also introduced him to Aubrey Sekhabi with whom he has co-written many plays including Not with my Gun, The Stick, and the 13 episode television series, Orlando.

Complementary to his writing, Paul also directs. His directorial credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cards, King Lear, Julius Caesar, In This Life and Dikeledi, an African adaptation of the Greek play, Electra.

Currently employed as a Development Officer with the State Theatre, Paul has plenty of opportunity to write, produce and direct. Plays in which he has been involved with in one capacity or another are Jumping the Colourline, Unsung Heroes, Welcome to Joburg, Truth in Flames, Member of Parliament and Lost Generation.

Paul is currently working on adapting A Streetcar Named Desire to a township context, which he finds exciting and challenging, and he is also working on a new play script, Hobo, which will highlight the plight of homeless people.

On hearing of his nomination for this Young Artist Award, Paul Grootboom said, "I never dreamt in my wildest dreams that I would be the recipient of such an award. I am so grateful to everyone that has made it possible for me to get where I am today. My only wish is that John was here to share in this wonderful moment with me." Aubrey Sekhabi and John Rogers are the two people who have influenced Paul's career the most - he says, "They were always able to calm my questioning soul."




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