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Saturday, February 23, 2013


 (This photo of Mike was taken during Bernie Davenport’s last show with him in May 2012)

Tribute to the late Mike Dunleavy from long-time friend and colleague, Bernie Davenport.

Exited stage left.

Last Player left on his stage but his stage is far from empty as all parts played in all shows remain on his stage. This may be the final act but, after his time on the stage of life, the show goes on in his legacy.

Mike’s passion was theatre all his life, and he had much joy and many great rewards for it. No, not monetary rewards, it probably cost him a fortune. His monetary rewards came from his other passion, Aloe Vera South Africa, set up with his wife Kristina in 1982. It would be another five years before I would meet Mike.

Mike and Kristina both had a vision of production of aloes on huge tracts of land in South Africa which would involve farms owned and run by the local population, selling the aloe leaves to Aloe Vera SA thereby providing abundant employment and use of this land.

But back to his other passion. Theatre. Mike was a long-in-the-tooth thespian way before I met him 25 years ago. He was a seasoned actor, producer and comedian in his own right.

My personal attachment to Mike began with the Kloof Art & Drama Society (KADS). Mike was a founder of KADS, many years before I met up with him during a resurrection of the Society. He was a master of drama in all its forms, producing and taking part in all manner of plays, shows, dramas, radio dramas, candlelight theatre and music hall. His ability to take on characters in many accents was huge (he was also fluent in Spanish).

His ability for teaching the Art of Theatre was abundant, stemming from his love of the art and his past teaching profession. A taskmaster during rehearsal, a drinking partner afterwards. Which brings to mind Mike’s famous comedy skit How to Bake a Christmas Pudding – hilarious!

I loved to rehearse in the Irish style pub at his and Kristina’s previous home in Kloof and afterwards planning the next Candlelight Theatre show - and the jokes we would use over a drink or two … or three!

Mike was a warm, caring man who desperately needed to pass on the skills of theatre. This was evident in his moving all the KADS props and costumes (after yet another decline) to Kloof High School Drama Department and renaming it HATS - Hillcrest Amateur Theatrical Society.

This was based in the Drama Department’s Cage Theatre and Mike gave up a lot of his time assisting students in that department. I had great pleasure performing in his 90th stage show at this venue – it was British Comedy starring One Little Englishman and one Big Little Irishman.

 He will be missed, his impish laugh will be missed … even his tantrums will be missed!

He has left this stage, the curtain has fallen, but he is in a place planning the next Big Production where there is eventually a part for us all. R.I.P Mike – Bernie Davenport

Mike Dunleavy’s funeral service will take place at the Hillcrest Catholic Church on Tuesday, February 26, at 11h00.