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Friday, May 1, 2020


(Left: Clinton Marius with some of his puppets)

artSMart Editor and owner Caroline Smart pays tribute to the late actor, playwright and puppet-maker, Clinton Marius

My dear long-time friend, colleague and fellow actor Clinton Marius passed away on February 26, 2020. Just over two months ago and I’m still battling to accept the fact that he is no longer with us.

Although Clinton moved to Knysna with his partners, William Charlton-Perkins and Riaan Timson, some months ago, we still stayed closely connected. William and Clinton’s Q & A of me after I won the Arts & Culture Lifetime Achievement Award for Arts Advocacy is one of the most precious items in my scrapbook. The Awards were held on February 21, 2020, so I only got to answer the questions properly after he had gone. A very heartbreaking process but I tried my best to produce the answers he would expect from me.

(Right: Clinton Marius & Caroline Smart. Pic by Margaret von Klemperer)

I have been using the lockdown period to catalogue my scrapbooks of my various theatre activities which has brought me closer to all the memories that Clinton and I shared. I came across a little note from him saying “Thank you for making my dreams come true”. I hope I did and I was always very honoured to be called his “Mummy No. 2”.

I first met Clinton about 20 years ago when he was running an art gallery/gift shop in Glenwood called Big Sky.

I was fortunate to direct one of Clinton’s first productions in 2003. This was Vergissmeinnicht which he performed with Thomie Holtzhausen. It went to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the first of a number of Clinton’s plays to be seen at the festival.

(Left: An image from “Guru”)

I went on to direct his fascinatingly satirical Guru in 2004 … and the outrageous send-up of Hollywood and the cult of celebrity, Thank you Very Much (Hooray for Wallywood!), in 2006. Another production was iLobolo in 2007 for the NLDTF/PANSA Festival of Contemporary Theatre Reading of New Writings, which won the Audience Award.

I cast him in Shades of Marguerite Poland which I directed in 2004 and which played to school audiences. He sometimes asked me to help put the finishing touches to a production like the delicious The Fantastical Flea Circus and the poignant Sweetie Darling.

In 2006, I was contracted by Lotus FM to direct their radio drama productions. I encouraged Clinton to try his hand at writing for radio which requires a different approach from stage work as the listeners only have their ears and imaginations.

He wrote several short plays and then I persuaded him to take the plunge and go for a series. With his fine sense of comedy and observation of human behaviour, his Lollipop Lane series took off immediately and eventually clocked up an impressive total of 800 episodes. Lollipop Lane was revised as a stage show and had a few performances at the iZulu Theatre and Catalina Theatre.

He later wrote a serial titled Eh Heh which ran on Gagasi 99.5FM but unfortunately, this was short-lived.

Clinton made his own puppets and loved to create theatre for young children. He worked closely with the ASSITEJ organisation. One of his most delightful plays was The Fantastical Flea Circus. The Calf with No Name, which introduced many children to theatre, is a Grade 8 setwork.

Clinton was a mentor to many and he was involved in the selection and mentoring of writers, for ASSITEJ’s first AFRICAN Playwriting Competition. He was a featured playwright at the DUT Children’s Festival, with which ASSITEJ collaborated over several years.

Clinton and film producer Ravi Govender collaborated on Ravi’s first movie, which was due to be released in December last year. Unfortunately, this has had to be placed on hold.

It was during a rehearsal for his play White Christmas, destined to go to this year’s National Arts Festival, when Clinton had his heart attack, the result of a burst aortic vein. Who would think that such a large and generous heart would eventually be the vehicle to take him from this earthly life?

Among the masses of tributes that came in to honour Clinton, the following from Ismail Mahomed, former Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival now CEO of the Market Theatre said it all:

“When an artist dies those of us who know the artist lose more than just a friend and colleague. We lose a national treasure. We lose a person who has been our conscience, allowed us to reflect and re-examine ourselves and to envision the kind of society we are living in and shaping for future generations.

In many ways, Clinton was an unusual giant. His reservoir of talent, his passion for the arts and his deep humanity stood far taller”.

Clinton handled the artSMart Facebook page and my great thanks are due to Riaan Timson for taking over this duty.

My heartfelt condolences go to Riaan, William, Clinton’s mother Trudi and the rest of his family. He is sorely missed.

Caroline Smart (Editor/Owner of the artSMart website)