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Sunday, October 8, 2017


(Dutch Ambassador to SA, Marisa Gerards bestows the honour of  “Knight of Oranje Nassau” onto Roel Twijnstra)

Durban’s Roel Twijnstra has been given the highest honour in his field, from his birth country, the Netherlands, that of Order for Artistic Excellence from the Dutch King.

The recognition was based on a nomination made by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa and supported by the Ambassador, Marisa Gerards, the award-winning Dutch writer Jibbe Willems, and CEO of the Market Theatre, Ismail Mohamed.

He was given the Royal Dutch order “Knight of Oranje Nassau” for the ongoing cultural exchange work and his outstanding contribution to theatre and cultural development, and exchange between South Africa and the Netherlands. In particular, for his work in building young artists and linking them with opportunities in the arts.

“I had no idea!” says an obviously delighted Twijnstra. "I am hugely honoured by this award and the feedback I got from colleagues, friends and people working in the theatre industry. I think you can’t do this work for recognition. But when recognition is there it means you did something that contributed to the importance of the Arts in Society and that makes me work and love my work every day."

Twijnstra is a theatre director, producer, a lecturer and writer originally from the Netherlands. He has been part of virtually 100 productions in various capacities to date. He is the founder and director of TWIST projects a proactive, multi-faceted KZN-based organisation that works on bridging the gap between community theatre and the theatre industry in KZN, an organization he manages together with Emma Durden.

Since 1999 he has directed various national and international theatre shows in South Africa – for theatres and festivals such as NAF, KKNK, PACOFS, Soweto Theatre and Artscape. He is the author of five books about theatre and film. The last two published in South Africa, one on theatre directing, one on producing for theatre. A next one is on the way: Acting for Stage and Screen in South Africa.

He settled in Durban in 2011, and is currently Head of Live Performance at AFDA Durban and focusing on the development of a South African screen acting methodology in collaboration with the film and TV industry in KZN.

Since 2014 he and his artistic partner, Jerry Pooe, have operated as executive producers for a myriad theatre projects, under the name Thambo Theatre Producers, producing theatre for the mainstream theatres and festivals in South Africa and abroad.

A through line in all his activities is the cultural exchange with The Netherlands. Some of the productions he made in South Africa travelled to Europe. Directors from The Netherlands came to work with theatre groups affiliated to TWIST projects during Durban’s inaugural alfresco beach festival: Fresha! Similarly, the invitation of Dutch playwrights to the annual Novel to Script project, collaborating with playwrights from South Africa and other Southern African countries has taken place for more than seven years at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

He started his career in 1981 after internships with Peter Brook (France), Peter Stein (Berlin) and Viola Spolin (Hollywood). Prior to moving to Durban, he had produced a myriad of theatre productions, in the Netherlands, US, Russia, Nepal, and different African countries like Morocco, Guinee, Benin and Uganda.

Twijnstra is married to actor, singer, playwright Philisiwe Twijnstra and is the proud father of their daughter Nondalo Neeltje Twijnstra.