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Friday, June 3, 2016


(Greg Melvill-Smith)

Long-term Durban audiences will remember Greg Melvill-Smith who passed away on May 31, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

After completing a National Diploma in Drama at Pretoria Technikon, he came to Durban to join the Loft Theatre Company at NAPAC in 1985 where he spent three years.

An actor, director, writer and voice artist he went on to appear in major roles in television series such as Die Vierde Kabinet, 7de Laan, One Way and Isidingo. He also appeared in Black Sails. His feature-film credits include The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mr. Bones, Drum, The Bang Bang Club and Night Drive.

The following tribute comes from the South African Guild of Actors:

“The South African Guild of Actors mourns the untimely loss of one of our own: Greg Melvill-Smith, a SAGA stalwart and true gentleman of the profession, left us in the late hours of 31 May 2016, succumbing to an illness borne with great dignity. At this difficult time our thoughts go out to Greg’s family as they face the loss of a loving husband and father.

Greg Melvill-Smith exhibited a unique entrepreneurial flair that saw him transplanting his interactive communication skills into the classroom and corporate boardroom alike. Indeed, SAGA was the fortunate beneficiary earlier this year of Greg’s facilitation expertise that resulted in the Guild’s five-year strategic plan, some of which is already yielding welcome fruit.”

Moving to Johannesburg in 1988, Greg went on to act in no fewer than 52 professional theatre productions and more than 10 major television series. He directed 14 plays, including three operas, conceived a number of industrial theatre projects and conducted environmental theatre workshops with teachers, students and theatre professionals. For the Palaeontological Scientific Trust, he initiated, wrote and directed Walking Tall, an ongoing educational intervention and outreach project that has reached more than 1.2 million people, primarily learners and educators in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Belgium and Sweden.

“For more than a decade,” SAGA continues, “Greg facilitated business coaching and training in the areas of emotional intelligence, mindset, team leadership, diversity and presentation skills. His clients include Nedbank, Schering Plough, Roche, Clicks, I-Net Bridge, the South African National Blood Services and SAA.

Greg’s legacy will continue to live on in our Guild, and our every success will reflect the memory of a man who gave more to the performance industry than he ever took for himself.”

Close friend and colleague, actress Annie Robinson Grealy writes: “Dear Greg ... indeed, a gentle giant and special human being.

It was my privilege to have worked with and to have got to know Greg in those halcyon Loft days. NAPAC formed a permanent theatre company headed by Nicolas Ellenbogen in 1985 - The Loft Theatre Company - and I can honestly say these were some of the best years of my life. Greg and our fellow ‘Lofties’ lived a life close to English repertory theatre – working our butts off in our morning warm-ups, sometimes on the beach to build physical and mental strength. (I have never been so fit in my life.) We wrote and workshopped plays, rehearsed noteworthy scripts and performed at night, and afterwards gathered in the theatre bar, just to start all over again a few hours later. Greg was a part of this life. We were like a family, working and playing hard together, travelling to perform at schools, Grahamstown and Hilton festivals, into the bush to perform or do research on a new play ... anywhere, it was an exciting time for us all, creating new and exciting work together as a well-oiled team.

Greg however was always the sensible one, the calm dependable gentle giant, always ready with a big bear hug, an ear to listen and ready with sensible calm words of advice. Greg had a wonderful laugh that could be a childlike giggle that grew into a guffaw.

Greg was a most loyal and loving husband to Kenda, whom he married while we were in the Loft. Greg too was a talented actor, a voice-over artist who honed his craft and cleverly made a success for himself in the corporate world too. Greg joins three fellow Lofties now – Jabulani, Chris Wells and Roger Dwyer and with that combination of talent and wit I can only imagine what works of enormous creative import await us when we too take our final bow and join them in that theatre in the sky."

Greg Melvill-Smith's memorial service will be held at St Peter's Prep School Chapel, Wittkoppen Road in Johannesburg tomorrow (June 4) at 14h00. It was his request that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Theatre Benevolent Fund: or facebook “Theatre Benevolent Fund”.