In tribute to Francois Theron

Assitej SA
06/20/2018 15:17:58

ASSITEJ SA is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of National Children's Theatre Director, Francois Theron.

We celebrate the selfless life and work of Francois, who dedicated himself to the careers of young actors and to finding new ways to create magic for children and young people. His love of theatre was part of the fabric of his being, but his love of the transformative power that theatre holds was perhaps even stronger. He was passionate about what theatre can mean in the lives of children, and the transformation it can render, having experienced this for himself in his own growing up on the stage.

He was delighted to discover, develop and hone young talent, and was generous in his praise and support of others. Having been an actor himself, he was sensitive to the insecurities and difficulties of the profession and found ways to reach out to those who were struggling.

As an actor, he worked in a range of diverse material from musicals and pantomimes to children's theatre, which he understood intimately from working at People's Theatre on 29 productions with more than 2 800 performances under his belt. His work as a director of theatre for young audiences went from strength to strength. Previously working as director on PACT schools’ tours and at OTB Theatre, he came into his own during his tenure at the National Children's Theatre (for which he was about to direct his 42nd production). There he further embedded a culture of excellence and created his special magic in a range of very diverse productions. From Shakespeare to C S Lewis, from serious educational theatre to Seussical, he managed to create beautiful memories for his audiences which will continue to inform their love of theatre long into the future. He continued to experiment with new directions in theatre for young audiences and always to train up the next generation of actors, not only to better express their talents, but also to appreciate and respect their audience and the importance of the work they were doing.

In 2017, ASSITEJ SA was delighted to host his production "Khokho's Treasure" at the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival, called Cradle of Creativity, where it was seen by delegates from more than 70 countries. As Bhavik Pamar, Education officer at Birmingham Rep, said, "Khokho's Treasure left the audience singing and dancing at the Baxter Theatre today. Big grin from me." And this was a response Francois would have loved, as he loved to spread joy through his work.

The industry will feel the absence of Francois very deeply as he has touched the lives of so very many people. ASSITEJ SA salutes him for his dedication, his talent and his courage, and we share our condolences with all those who are mourning his loss, particularly his family, his NCT family, his broader theatre family and all his many many children, both young and old, who have been touched by his life and work.


ASSITEJ South Africa is a registered NPO (066-875), which operates as a networking platform for people working with or interested in theatre for children and young people. It aims to promote and foster high quality theatre for children and young people, to raise standards within the industry, to increase access and awareness, to develop and support artists working in the field, to be an advocate for the right of every child to arts education in schools, and to build relationships within the sector locally, nationally, across the continent and globally.

Members are present in all provinces and include actors, musicians, dancers, directors, choreographers, theatre educators, stage designers and dramatists, as well as theatre companies, organisations and institutions, critics and cultural journalists, cultural officers, amateur drama groups, organizers, societies and other networks.

ASSITEJ South Africa works to promote international awareness of South African theatre for children and young people, through networking, organising exchanges, touring performances, and by facilitating contacts. Members are given access to a global network of information about festivals, performances, courses and seminars all over the world, with the potential to participate in these activities. ASSITEJ SA was the proud host of the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival, Cradle of Creativity, in 2017.

ASSITEJ South Africa is generously supported by Rand Merchant Bank, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, the Department of Basic Education, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), the HCI Foundation, and the City of Cape Town. Other funders, supporters and partners include and have included the National Lotteries Commission, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Department of Arts and Culture, UNESCO IFCD, Buz Publicity, Splitbeam Gearhouse, Institut Francaise, Alliance Francaise, Africalia, Pro Helvetia, Goethe Institut, Government of Flanders, SIDA, The National School of the Arts, Artscape, Baxter Theatre, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, the National Arts Festival, the Distell Foundation, the Kids of the Cape, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation, CATHSSETA, Ruth & Anita Wise Trust, Lorenzo and Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust, Puppetry South Africa, The Arts and Culture Trust and Nedbank Arts Affinity, Copy Dog Productions, Mandela Bay Development Agency, Speeltheater Holland Studio, Bush Radio, FMR, and Cape Town Television. Account:
Yvette Hardie
021 822 0070
27 82 859 5635

Related Venue:
National Children's Theatre, 3 Junction Avenue Parktown Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa