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TRIBUTE TO ROGER DWYER (article first published : 2007-04-3)

I was deeply saddened to learn of Roger Dwyer’s death in Cape Town this morning. He and I enjoyed a very productive working relationship in Durban from 1987 until 1994 when we jointly headed the NAPAC (Natal Performing Arts Council now The Playhouse Company) Drama Company. Roger was always the perfect gentleman; he had a penetrating sense of humour and together we enjoyed many jaunts around the country in search of new talent for The Loft Theatre Company.

In many ways, our styles and approaches were very different. Rog was wise, steadfast and controlled; I was wild, irresponsible and carefree. Yet, together we made an excellent team and I like to think that our time at NAPAC was probably the best of times. He was an excellent administrator and handled all our business and contractual obligations with great finesse.

As an actor himself, Roger was sympathetic to the actor’s plight and NAPAC Drama had a reputation for always paying a fair and decent wage to its actors.

Our relationship extended to the stage where I had the privilege of directing him in several plays. Rog was the quintessential professional and always got on with the job with the minimum of fuss and bother. In many ways he was totally un-theatrical but, oh boy, when he trod the boards, you knew you were in the presence of a real actor.

A quiet, essentially private man, he was deeply loved by his co-workers because he understood their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. I don’t think I can recall any time when he spoke ill of any person. (Myself excluded, perhaps!) I learned so much from him, and we remained close friends and colleagues until his untimely demise.

I will always remember Roger as a dependable colleague, eager to share some gossip and have a joke. His criticisms were always spot-on. He had a huge heart and a powerful intellect. I will always love him and respect and revere his considerable talents and abilities. My memories of him in productions at CAPAB, well before I really knew him, and later at NAPAC – The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and Murder Among Friends will always be with me.

I will miss our “catch-up” dinners at the Grahamstown festival, which we managed to arrange right up until the time of his passing. The great theatre in the sky has a wonderful new cast member tonight. - Murray McGibbon, Professor of Theatre and Drama, Indiana University, USA

It is planned that a memorial gathering – Roger would have hated a funeral, says his wife, Patti!) – will take place at Kwasuka Theatre on April 5 at 14h00. This is the same time that the main get-together will be taking place in Cape Town. Watch artSMart for confirmation of these details – Caroline Smart




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