national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, December 8, 2020


(Right: Dawn Lindberg)

KZN-based Naledi Award winners Steven Stead, Ralph Lawson and Menzi Mkhwane pay tribute to Dawn Lindberg.

Founder of the Naledi Awards, theatre legend Dawn Lindberg has died of a COVID-19 related illness at the age of 75. With her husband Des, they became household names in South Africa, known and loved for their stage and screen performances over the years.



Naledi Award winner of Best Director of a Musical for “Sweeney Todd” in 2016, and nominated in 2020 for Best Director of a Musical for Into the Woods. Also nominated two other times for Best Director for “Red” and “Cabaret”, also nominated for “Shrek” in 2017.

I am deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden, unexpected passing of South African theatre legend, Dawn Lindberg. She was a formidable force in our industry; like royalty, a notable and significant presence on opening nights. She was passionate about theatre and supported all of us involved in it. Her championing and stewardship of the Naledi Awards was vital to the theatre, in raising the profile of our industry in a country where the performing arts is hugely undervalued, and in creating national recognition for one another amongst our peers.

The nominations mean just as much, if not more, than the win because they were such a validation and recognition of my work on a national level. Those awards under Dawn were far more inclusive than they were divisive.

She helped us value not only one another's work, but to realise that our work was valued too. We will miss this charismatic dynamo in many ways as we emerge blinking from the wreckage at the end of this devastating pandemic. – Steven Stead



Naledi Award winner of Best Actor and Best New SA Original Script (shared with Gregg Homan) for “A Voice I Cannot Silence”.

Dawn contributed, with Des, over many memorable decades, to the very fabric of our industry. Some of us will recall fondly the beautiful renditions of musicals like Godspell or Pippin in the 70's, which shed a healing light in a country bombarded with censorship and artistic boycotts.

Ever fearless, Dawn's finest gift to the industry was, perhaps, the establishment of the Naledi Awards. These gave us all a reason to strive for the excellence and professionalism that she so glowingly exemplified. Our thoughts are with Des and her family. We share their grief at the passing of a loving colleague and a true artist. - Ralph Lawson.



Naledi Award winner of Brett Golden Award for Best Newcomer/Breakthrough for “A Voice I Cannot Silence”.

I was really inspired by the work that Dawn did in the theatre fraternity, being someone who championed celebrating local talent and really uplifting our industry and the work that we do.

It was an honour for me to meet her on stage for the very first time because in that year in particular my award was a Brett Golden Award. To me it was a very special moment to meet the woman who was behind this really prestigious award ceremony and also someone who has contributed to me being celebrated in my own industry.

Thank you, Dawn, we will always remember you and love the work that you’ve done. - Menzi Mkhwane