Winston Ntshona 1996


Winston Ntshona was born on the 6th of October 1941 in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape region. He is an actor and playwright. A master of comedic tragedy, he is considered one of South Africa’s finest actors.

Ntshona worked alongside Athol Fugard and John Kani on many occasions. Ntshona and Kani co-wrote the 1973 play The Island, a pointed and partly humorous protest against the conditions at South Africa's infamous Robben Island prison, where the country's future president, Nelson Mandela, had been serving a life sentence since 1964. But the play proved to have universal appeal, maintaining its popularity after apartheid was dismantled. It has been translated into more than 30 languages. The Island and its companion piece, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, have been staged in London and on Broadway in New York (where Ntshona and his co-star John Kani won Tony Awards in 1975).

Ntshona continues to live in Port Elizabeth, and from 2000, he has been the Chairman of the Eastern Cape Cultural Unit’s Arts Agency, working to interest young South Africans in theatre. He has appeared in several international films, notably A Dry White Season, and television commercials. He was honoured with a Living Treasures Award from South Africa's National Arts Council. It is understood in theatrical circles that Ntshona has played a large part in creating outstanding theatre pieces, but his name is mostly absent from theatrical histories and reference books.

Winston Ntshona received an honorary doctorate from the former University of Port Elizabeth in 1996, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the performing arts and his unflinching devotion to the ideal of creative freedom in the service of democratic rights for all South Africans.