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Sunday, November 29, 2009


(Pic by Val Adamson: Professor Robert Morrell and Peter Taylor)

Peter Taylor is the recipient of the first Monica Fairall Memorial Award.

Following the death earlier this year of broadcaster Monica Fairall, her husband and close friends created a trust in her memory to honour specific abilities in the performing arts world. This will fund the Monica Fairall Memorial Award which will be presented annually at the Durban Theatre Awards, a glitzy “Oscars”-type celebration evening when the Durban performing arts industry honours its own.

Besides being a highly popular radio personality, a writer and a yoga teacher as well as a former Miss South Africa, Monica Fairall was also a University of Natal (Durban) – as it was then - drama graduate and an accomplished musician and singer. The performing arts were important to her and she valued the roles of the people who weren’t in the limelight.

The Monica Fairall Memorial Award will honour and reward people in the performing arts who make performance possible but whose efforts often go unsung among the more visible roles. The award is chosen by an independent panel and the criteria include a high standard of efficiency, a pro-active attitude towards the recipient’s work and the capacity to encourage newcomers in the performing arts - in other words, those who give back far more than they receive.

Setting a high benchmark with his impressive and respected administration abilities is Peter Taylor, who is currently Arts Administrator of The Playhouse Company. With a BA from the University of Newcastle in his home country of Australia, he was administrator of the FNB Vita Durban Awards from 2000 to 2002. After these were disbanded, he was instrumental in the formation of the Durban Theatre Awards.

He is also administrator for the community outreach project Cato Manor Vibe!!, treasurer and a director of KZN DanceLink and a former treasurer of PANSA KZN.

A dancer himself, he performed with Brickhill-Burke and all the former performing arts councils as well as with Sun International. He was an integral part of the Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company and Very Very Big Productions. He was also Company Manager for African Footprint from 2005 to 2007 and the 2006 production of My Fair Lady produced by the Playhouse Company.

Professor Robert Morrell was at the DTA evening on November 23 to present the prestigious award: "I was one of Monica's yoga students in the early 2000s at the Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company,” he explains, “and it was here that I first met Peter who kindly made many of the administrative arrangements associated with Monica's classes. It is thus poignantly appropriate that Peter was the first recipient of the award which, at the ceremony, brought Monica, Peter and I back together fleetingly to celebrate selfless and dedicated service".

Glynis Horning, a member of the selection committee for the award, noted: “Monica would have loved the warmth and wicked laughter of this year's DTA evening and led the standing ovation for Peter Taylor. He exemplifies all the qualities she admired - quiet commitment, dedication and consummate professionalism, married to a deep and passionate care. Peter has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to promote the arts in this country, and it was marvellous to see his efforts recognised this way.”

A proud Peter Taylor states. “I first met Monica when she came to teach the yoga class that formed part of Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company's programme of adult evening classes. The dance company's studio was situated above a metal-stitching workshop in a light industry part of town and after the noise and bustle of business during the day, and the noise of traffic in the street outside, Monica brought a welcome serenity. There were many facets to Monica's life and with each she made a contribution that was for the benefit of us all. For me it is a great honour to receive this award given in her memory.”

Apart from the cheque that goes with the award, the Trust will pay the Durban Theatre Awards a generous administration fee for hosting its presentation so all contributions to the Monica Fairall Memorial Award Fund will be welcomed.

Deposits should be made to: WBI Trust Account, First National Bank, Durban Corporate, Branch code: 22-14-26, A/c number: 508 559 270 66. NB: Enter your file number in this office as the reference: 26M3574A9