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Saturday, July 9, 2011


(Pic of Vera taken by Janet van Eeden in Grahamstown at the premiere of “The Savage from the Colonies”)

Well-known Durban - and former Pietermaritzburg - actress Vera Clare passed away at Hospice today. The photograph is courtesy of writer/director Janet van Eeden who says she will miss her hugely: “Ever since she played the Writer in my first play The Savage from the Colonies, we formed a strong bond. She had a stroke a few weeks ago and didn't come out of it. Glad she didn't linger in the coma for too long. I just loved her.”

During her days in Pietermaritzburg, Vera worked closely with multi-award winning designer and director Greg King who sends this tribute: “Vera Clare was a grand lady of the theatre. An actress with a capital A! I first met Vera when she and I were cast as Lady Bracknell and Jack, respectively, in Peter Mitchell’s production of The Importance… at the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg. There was never better casting! I was immediately in awe of her instinct as an actress, her discipline in the rehearsal room and on stage, and her love and great respect of all things theatrical. She was a lady to watch and learn from.

“I was so flattered and proud when she agreed to come to Durban to reprise this role in KickstArt’s second production of the play,” adds Greg, “during which she wowed Durban audiences for the first of several times. My dear Lady Bracknell, you shall be much missed, and always greatly loved, admired and appreciated. With fondest love, Greg King.”

Vera had also performed the role of Lady Bracknell some years previously – with a different actor in the role of Jack. Director Murray McGibbon, currently back in South Africa from the US for a visit, has some powerful memories of Vera.

“As a "young turk" in Pietermaritzburg in the late 1970's, Vera Goodeneough (as she was then) was always very supportive of my theatrical endeavours and invited me to work with her in a production of The Entertaining English in which she played Lady Bracknell and I played Jack Worthing! Later she offered me the part of Oswald in Ghosts, a production, which sadly never made it to the stage. She played a wonderful Hesther Salomon in my 1984 production of Equus in Pietermaritzburg. She was a true professional, classy, understated (sometimes!) and vitally engaging.

“She was larger than life and could have been one of South Africa's biggest stage stars, but for her devotion to her family and living in out-of–the-way Pietermaritzburg,” Murray continues. “Despite this, I held her in the highest regard as an actress of great range and ability. She had excellent vocal technique, a razor sharp mind and exuded an immaculate stage presence. She was an old-school, "real" actress and her passing will be mourned by all who knew and loved her.”