IN THESE tough and worrying times of Covid-19 protocol hurdles threatening the future of theatre, comes some very good news – a new South African production company, How Now Brown Cow, has been formed amid all the chaos.
The new company is run by actress, writer and publicist Julie-Anne McDowell Hegarty and the former managing director of Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre and renowned producer and lighting, Daniel Galloway.
How Now Brown Cow Productions is a professional theatre-producing company, based in South Africa, committed to presenting a range of world-class productions. It aims to commission, enable and empower South African theatre practitioners.
It plans to create a platform to present a mix of well-known local and international texts, new cutting-edge contemporary plays from around the globe, as well as commissioning new works by gifted South African and international playwrights.
How Now Brown Cow Productions is founded by McDowell Hegarty and, alongside her, Galloway acts as general manager and associate producer.
“I was in something of a daze on the afternoon on which I announced my stepping away from The Fugard Theatre, after almost 10 years at the helm,” says Galloway.
“My phone rang and on the other end, to my great delight, was Julie-Anne. I was immediately taken by her focused passion and vision for the performing arts in South Africa, and did not need to think twice before agreeing to join her on her quest.
“I am thrilled to be a part of something as exciting as this, in a time which is deeply challenging to all of us in the arts in South Africa. We all need something to look forward to, and be hopeful for. My mission is to make How Now Brown Cow, alongside Julie-Anne, a meaningful employer of South African theatre makers and a creator of excellent theatrical work in our country,” he adds.
The first slate of new works licensed and commissioned by How Now Brown Cow will roll out on to stages in South Africa in 2021. These will be announced soon.
“The goal, originally, was to create work for myself as an actress and make the kind of theatre that I would want to watch. However, during lockdown and subsequently, my vision is to play a small but significant role in safeguarding our local theatre industry, keeping it relevant and nurturing South African artistry,” explains McDowell Hegarty.
“The ambition is to produce quality work in South Africa that can travel, so that not only can we South Africans enjoy international productions, but that our South African talent can be appreciated overseas.”
Galloway has produced more than 150 shows, both locally and internationally, which collectively have received more than 220 award nominations.
After almost a decade at the helm of The Fugard Theatre, he now offers his executive management experience, mentorship and training, consultancy services and lighting design to the theatre industry, among others.
McDowell Hegarty studied classical ballet and speech and drama through RADA, and then went on to perform in numerous musical theatre productions around Northern Ireland. She performed with The Lyric Theatre, The Ulster Opera Houseand The Ulster Hall, and toured Ireland and the US in several productions with the Belvoir Players.
Her television experience includes In Cold Blood, Tree Story, A Knight in Shining Armour, The Head Case and Farm. Theatre experience includes The Crucible, The Beaux Stratagem, Oedipus Rex, The Memory of Water, Beauty, Me and My Best Friend, Continental Quilt and The Rabbit Hole.
She made her South African stage debut in the acclaimed two-hander, COUPLET, that ran at the Theatre on The Square, POPArt and Grahamstown in 2017. Then she followed in 2018 and 2019 with the award-winning production of The Revlon Girl, playing Marilyn, which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Nomination at the 2019 Naledi Theatre Awards.
In July 2019, she participated in a Shakespeare Workshop with The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, UK, playing Viola in Twelfth Night, directed by Andrew Normington.