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DEATH OF BILL SMALE (article first published : 2005-10-17)

Director Murray McGibbon has informed artSMart that he received news from David Jennians, a friend of actor Bill Smales, to say that Bill had died in the UK at the end of November. His death was unexpected but apparently he didnt suffer.

Bill Smale was a stalwart of many drama productions produced by the Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC) in the 70s and 80s and long-established Durban audiences will remember his wonderful performances in numerous pantomimes.

I was saddened to learn of the death of Bill Smale for although I had not seen him for sixteen years, we have always exchanged Christmas cards right up to last year, says John Moss, former artistic director of Drama for NAPAC now living in the UK.

I first engaged Bill for a NAPAC Drama production back in 1971.It was for Macbeth in which he doubled the roles of The Sergeant and The Porter. Over the next seventeen years he played in 17 Drama productions. He was an excellent character actor and therefore was equally at home in everything from Shakespeare to Pantomime.

Of all his many roles, Bill remains strongest in my memory for those of Piglet in Winnie-the-Pooh and of the Ugly Sister, Anaesthesia, in my own version of Cinderella, John adds. In two subsequent revivals of these productions he repeated his original success. His strong singing voice and comedy timing ensured his popularity with audiences and his own inventiveness made him a joy to direct. I shall miss his regular Christmas message.

Bill's appearances for NAPAC Drama also included Winnie the Pooh and Puss In Boots (1972); As You Like It and A Shot In The Dark (1973); Alice Through The Looking Glass, Hamlet and Cinderella (1974); The School For Scandal and Winnie The Pooh (1975); Listen To The Wind and On Monday Next (1976); The Merchant Of Venice (1979); A Midsummer Night's Dream and Cinderella (1980); Winnie The Pooh (1983), and Cinderella (1988).




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