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50 YEARS YOUNG (article first published : 1999-04-15)

The University of Natal Durban's drama and performance studies department (formerly speech and drama department), turns 50 this year.

In 1949, at the instigation of Professor Elizabeth Sneddon, the UND became the first tertiary institution in South Africa to recognize drama as an academic discipline within the BA degree and she was the first department head. The past head, Professor Pieter Scholtz, handed the position over to Professor Mervyn McMurtry on his retirement in 1995.

In its 50 year existence, the department has produced many of South Africa's leading academics (at one time, the head of drama at every English speaking institution in South Africa was a graduate) as well as actors, dancers, directors, choreographers, designers and administrators in theatre, radio, television and film not to mention those in prominent positions in other fields such as education, public relations, journalism, etc.

REVISED

The drama syllabus has been extensively revised to focus on the South African and, particularly KZN, context. An aggressive marketing campaign has attracted a 1999 first-year enrolment of more than 130 students.

The anniversary year will be celebrated with a performances, exhibitions, work-shops, outreach programmes, in-service courses and free classes in dance, acting and voice training. Sponsorship is sought for a gala evening planned for September in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

ANECDOTE

Past students and people associated with the Drama Department who have an anecdote or story to tell are asked to contact Professor Mervyn McMurtry by e-mail: mcmurtrym@mtb.und.ac.za or fax 260-1410 or phone Claudette Wagner on 260-3134 (08h30-12h30).


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