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DEATH OF THABANI PATRICK TSHANINI (article first published : 2007-03-17)

Thabani “Patrick” Tshanini first popped onto the scene as a young intern in the Playhouse Company’s Kwasa programme.

He hailed from Ladysmith and was desperately in love with the theatre. He attended the year long internship programme and excelled at everything, appearing in his debut production of Izinyoni, a South African adaptation of The Birds by Aristophanes. He also appeared in Hugo Le Roux’s production of Vikela at the Playhouse.

Soon after graduating, he auditioned for Welcome Msomi’s 90’s tour of uMabatha and won the title role, going on to tour to America, Europe and Australia.

On returning, and because of his intimate knowledge of traditional dance and Zulu culture, he was instrumental in re-enacting the famous Anglo-Zulu battles in his hometown, Ladysmith.

Patrick was a dedicated, fun-loving dynamic performer who could absolutely enthral an audience with his focus and energy. He appeared in numerous corporate gigs in and around KwaZulu-Natal, mostly for Themi Venturas Productions.

One of his last appearances before being diagnosed HIV positive was as the Imbongi in Opera Africa’s production of the opera Faust, which I directed.

After being diagnosed he spent time in Kosi Bay training the rural communities to use their culture to make a living from tourists in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. Soon he became too weak to work in the theatre and returned to Ladysmith to be with his family.

He finally lost his battle with full-blown AIDS on March 16. Rest in Peace, my friend, May the angels shudder when you stamp your feet in Zulu Dance, and may your family be blessed as they celebrate your life and miss you from theirs. – Themi Venturas




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