BY BILLY SUTER
THE South African theatre community was shocked and saddened at news of the death today of Pietermaritzburg-born playwright and performer Clinton Marius, following heart surgery this morning at Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital. He was 53.
Marius, who recently relocated from Durban to Knysna, where he and partners William Charlton-Perkins and Riaan Timson opened the Knysna Theatre, would have turned 54 on August 20. He was airlifted to Groote Schuur this morning for an emergency operation, following being admitted to the ICU at a hospital in George last night.
Noted for writing many plays for children and adults, as well as his hugely popular, long-running Lotus FM radio serial, Lollipop Lane, Marius made his first professional appearance at the age of 12, singing the lead role in Menotti’s opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors.
His poetry has been published internationally, while he is also known for collections of short stories, as well as the fictional biography of a guru, Sunshine – The Booklet of the Biography.
His plays include the award-winning Bi#ch Stole My Doek, The Penis Monologues, White Christmas, Sweetie Darling and Guru. Most recently, a reworked version of his last play, the comedy-drama Bigly Yuge, was staged over the 2019 festive season at Durban’s Playhouse Loft.
In 2002, reports Wikipedia, Marius directed Jonathan Cumming’s The Gladiator at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and co-ordinated A Slice of Madness, a season of theatre in Durban in which he appeared in David Campton;s Mutatis Mutandis.
In January 2003 he appeared at the KwaSuka Theatre in The Divine Child, and in April 2003 he founded the annual Fools Awards in recognition of arts practitioners’ contributions in KwaZulu-Natal. The awards were discontinued some years ago.
Marius’s performance alongside Greig Coetzee in Kobus Moolman’s Soldier Boy, winner of the BBC worldwide radio drama competition, was broadcast internationally.
Marius’s highly successful one-man show, Uncut – The Penis Monologues, directed by Garth Anderson, premiered in Durban in September 2003 before starting a successful national tour.
Marius also performed in his stage drama, Vergissmeinnicht (Farm of Secrets), at the 2003 National Arts Festival. This was followed by the New Age send-up, Guru, and the one-man comedy Thank You Very Much, a satire about Hollywood and celebrities.
His work was profiled in the Children’s Theatre Festival at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in 2012, when six of his productions for the young were performed by students. These included The Magical Flea Circus, iPuppeti and The Calf With No Name.
Marius was known for his clever wordplay and keen sense of humour. The South African theatre scene is poorer for his absence.
Funeral plans have yet to be finalised.