Living Legends Legacy public lecture: Des and Dawn Lindberg

  • DATE

    23 September 2016

  • TIME



    Masker Theatre, Hatfield Campus

Des and Dawn Lindberg were named Living Legends by Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa in 2015. The Department of Drama is honoured to be hosting artists of this calibre at a guest lecture on the Hatfield Campus.


Date: Friday, 23 September 2016
Time: 12:30
Venue: Masker Theatre, Hatfield Campus
RSVP: to Immogen Visser at [email protected]


About the presenters:

Entrepreneurs, producers and entertainers Des and Dawn Lindberg have been involved in the entertainment and theatre industry for 51 years. Boasting qualifications from South Africa and abroad, Dawn spent a year in Detroit, USA, on an AFS scholarship, where she met President Kennedy. Des became a full-time folk singer after graduating and he ran the Troubadour coffee bar in Doornfontein for five years. This venue served as the headquarters of the South African folk music scene, considered very challenging to the apartheid regime.

The couple married in 1965 and for three years toured South Africa and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in a caravan with their show Folk on trek. Their first album, Folk on trek was banned and all copies were destroyed. They have since made 25 albums. Die gezoem van die bye and The seagull's name was Nelson were their biggest hits, each topping the South African charts for 20 weeks.

The Lindbergs were the first to produce multi-racial theatre publicly in South Africa in 1973 with their production of Godspell, which premiered in Maseru, Lesotho, before opening in South Africa. On arrival in Johannesburg the production was instantly banned by the Censorship Board on the grounds of 'blasphemy'. The Lindbergs knew this ban was a smokescreen used by the National Party government to prevent racial integration in South African Theatre. They were the first producers to go to the Supreme Court to have the ban set aside, and they won their case. As a result Godspell toured the country for 18 months and spearheaded the opening of theatres to all races in 1978, one of the first bastions of apartheid to fall.

Des and Dawn are prolific producers, having produced ten musicals including The best little whorehouse in Texas (title banned) and The black Mikado, which was the first West End musical to premier in Soweto in 1976. It starred Ben Satch Masinga and Thandie Klaasen. Their production of King Afrika starred Henry Cele and Mara Louw.

They have also produced ten straight plays including The vagina monologues, a play to create awareness of abuse against women. Thirty top celebrities took part in productions at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria, the Opera Theatre in PE and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

They staged more than 800 Sunday soirees at their Victorian home on Houghton Ridge, in defiance of the law which at that time prohibited public entertainment on Sundays. The Sunday soirees featured 2 000 proudly South African artists including Johhny Clegg, Sipho Nchunu, John Kani, Winston Ntshona (who starred in Sizwe Banzi is dead), Oswald Mtshali (who starred in Sounds of a cowhide drum), Abigail Kubeka, the Soweto String Quartet, Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, the Drakensberg Boys Choir and many more.

Des was Chairman of Theatre Management South Africa for 22 years and served on the boards of the South African State Theatre and the Joburg Theatre for five years each. He co-wrote the Standard Theatre Contract with the South African Theatre Union, which was accepted by the Department of Labour, and is still used to this day.

Dawn conceived and created the Naledi Theatre Awards in 2004 and has built it into South Africa's biggest and most respected awards event to honour excellence in live South African theatre.

They were nominated as Stars of their Community by the Star newspaper, with Dawn garnering a second, separate nomination as Top Woman Achiever. She was a finalist for Mrs South Africa and won the 'Women are the Real Architects of Society' Award in August 2016 for her ground-breaking work in drama excellence, particularly her role in establishing the Naledi Theatre Awards. She is also a motivational speaker, inspiring and encouraging entrepreneurial women to follow their passion with her talk 'Every day is an opening night'.

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