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Monday, August 24, 2020


(Rosemary Draper)

The theatre world is saddened by the death on August 20, 2020, of Rosemary Draper, a major supporter and stalwart of Durban theatre.

The following tributes are from those who knew her well and will miss her sadly:

Cathy Peacock

KZN Philharmonic Orchestra trumpeter and founder of Platform Jazz.

I first met Rosemary Draper in 1984 when, as a mature student, she went to UKZN to study drama. She was most interested in the theatre and so in her 50s she did a BA majoring in Drama.

She had a great love of drama appearing in a number of productions at the Sneddon in the 80s. She was an avid theatre-goer and supporter.

A truly gracious lady with a keen intellect and sense of humour. She will be sorely missed – Cathy Peacock


Mervyn McMurtry

Former head of the Drama Department at UKZN:

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance…” 

Rosemary was never one to stand in the limelight, but her unassuming presence, even in the wings, proved to be a very special support to so many and on so many levels.  Personally, I will always remember her as a steadfastly loyal and dedicated colleague, as a most gracious and generous hostess, and as the epitome of genteel elegance. And yet, that shy smile concealed a sense of genuine empathy and justice; I will never forget the way in which she firmly, quietly, and rightly defended a student whom she believed had been treated undeservedly.

Rosemary, on behalf of the young people you taught and encouraged with such care and love, for a life devoted to supporting drama and theatre in our city, for your kindness in sharing your knowledge, I extend my humblest gratitude, and my deepest sympathy to your loved ones, knowing that your memory will be cherished by so many. - Mervyn McMurtry


Debbie Lutge

HOD: Drama and Production Studies at Durban University of Technology:

Rose Draper was glamorous and kind, with an artistic energy that always accompanied her wicked sense of humour. I completed my third year at the University of Natal with Rose who was a valued part of our wonderful final year University of Natal group. Rose and I were both a little older than the group and had both returned to study which perhaps meant that I leaned on Rose a little more for comfort and encouragement while I muddled along between studies and four young children under eight.

Tall, slim, elegant, and a former model, Rose Draper played a superb old lady feeding the birds in Peter Larlham’s production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Killing Game. The role was portrayed with great aplomb and her memorable mime work in feeding this grain to the birds was so effective that it triggered a great interest in the importance of mime and gesture, what ‘seems’ and what ‘is’, the power of silence and listening on stage. All lessons that remained.

In our final year we also put together a documentary on Egypt for Dr Neville Herrington’s class. As Rose and hubby had recently visited Egypt, all her photos supported our timeline as a guide, while her sheets and jewellery turned us into ancient Pharaohs like Hatshepsut and Cleopatra, languishing besides or bathing in her Westville pool, cleverly edited to resemble the Nile.

However, it was Rose’s sense of historical narrative that pervaded our documentary and informed our content – thank you, Rose. Rose Draper remained an ardent theatre patron and I would meet her at shows with her wonderful grandchildren. Thank you, Rose, for your unwavering support of the arts, for your gentle friendship, and your delightful laughter. We send our deepest condolences to family, loved ones, friends and old college alumni. We will miss you greatly. RIP Rose Draper, RIP. - Debbie Lutge


Steven Stead

Actor, director and playwright Steven Stead, co-founder of KickstArt Theatre Company.

I first met Rose when she was in her first year as a senior student at the University of Natal in 1985, when we were both cast in Pieter Scholtz’s production of The Sound of Music at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. She made such an impression on me, not only for being gracious, kind, gentle and generous, and for her courage; with hindsight I can appreciate what strength and determination she possessed at the same time, entering into such a youthful and boisterous environment as the Drama Department in her middle age, and more than holding her own. She excelled.

She went on to complete her honours degree, and appeared in several high-level productions that I saw at the Sneddon over that time, including The King and I and King Lear.

Although she didn’t go into the theatre as a profession, she remained a stalwart supporter of the arts, and an avid theatre-goer. She has been a staunch supporter of our work at KickstArt, and we will miss her graceful, warm presence at our opening nights in the future. - Steven Stead