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Thursday, September 8, 2011


(Pic by Peter Gardner: Peter Wright beams with delight on taking delivery of the Steel Ball for an ICC dance production for the launch of the ICC Arena)

Last night, family and friends held a memorial celebration of the life of Peter Wright, stage/production manager and technician extraordinaire, who died on August 27, 2011.

The huge groundswell of support received by his wife Retha Cilliers, CEO of the Field Band Foundation, his daughter Natalie and the rest of his family bears testimony to the respect and love in which Peter was held.

Among the tributes were those from the three major places he had worked.

Professor Elizabeth Triegaardt, Executive Director of the Cape Town City Ballet, writes: “A stage is a dangerous place and no artist in any discipline can feel secure in their presentation if they have no confidence in the stage crew. When Peter worked with us in the CAPAB Ballet Co, there was never any doubt that performances would run smoothly and safely and that we could tread the boards with no fear of things going wrong. A miss-timed lighting or fly cue can spell disaster for any artist and ruin the most sincere or spectacular of presentations – something that never happened with Peter there! A professional supreme, with consideration for everyone on stage, from the prima ballerina to the lowliest of court ladies – that was Peter! Regards, Elizabeth

After leaving Cape Town and moving to Durban, Peter Wright joined the Natal Performing Arts Council and was part of the critical turnaround process when NAPAC became The Playhouse Company.

Robert Cross, former head of NAPAC, was very saddened to hear today about Peter's death. “He really was one of my favourite people at "old NAPAC" and I used to so enjoy his laid-back attitude when everyone else was throwing a queenie. It was always wonderfully reassuring,” he says. “It was also good to know that any show on which he worked was in safe hands.”

Fellow theatre technician and director of Black Coffee, Brandon Bunyan also sent his tribute: ”It is hard to imagine that such a theatre legend is no longer with us,” he says. “He is one of the big unsung heroes who somehow calmly went into battle and never expected thanks at the other end. He was an inspiration and role-model for many young theatre technicians and we will always remember his pride and dedication to the theatre and conference industry.”

Peter Wright then left NAPAC/The Playhouse Company when he moved to the International Convention Centre as production manager and supervised the technical entertainment aspects of this majestic new development.

The CEO at the time was Peter Brokenshire, now heading the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Malaya. This is this tribute:

“It was with great sadness that I learnt of the sudden death of Peter Wright,” he says. “The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Peter is his dry wit and well-developed sense of humour – very necessary in the Hospitality and Entertainment industries, where everything that could conceivably go wrong, normally does. However, through all the day to day problems, Peter would come through cheerfully, with a quick quip to break the ice and get everyone back on the right track.

He was a true professional and in the process, took others along with him. This was very important in the context of the new South Africa, where skills transference and creating opportunities for team members from previously disadvantaged groups, was all important.

During his tenure at the International Convention Centre, Durban, Peter was responsible for mentoring numerous members of the Audio Visual and Technical Services Teams and the success of the transformation process can in large part be attributed to him. Many landmark events were delivered during that time, including, NAM, CHOGM and the World AIDS Conference. All of them vitally important to establishing Durban as a host City for international events. Peter, together with his Team, was a key element in this success. This reflected Peter’s devotion to his work.

Peter was also, always caring of friends and willing to help wherever and whenever he could. His passing is a loss to all of us and Alan Pryor joins me in extending our sincere condolences to his family who I know will be feeling a great sense of grief.

This grief is the price we pay for love.”