AFDA executives have announced the appointment of senior staff in key positions at its three campuses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. As part of its consistent drive to provide a high quality and relevant education for young aspiring filmmakers, TV producers and performers, AFDA has appointed a number of prominent academics and practitioners to top posts within these campuses.
Current artistic director of the Market Theatre, Malcolm Purkey, has been appointed as dean designate of the AFDA campus in Johannesburg. Purkey will also continue in his role as artistic director of the Market, on a revised contract for the foreseeable future. Respected award-winning theatre director Greg Homan is head of the Performance School while award-winning filmmaker Brent Quinn will head of the film school.
In Cape Town prolific producer, director of photography and photographer, Roy Zeitsky has been appointed as head of the film school, with highly experienced TV presenter, producer and news editor Megan Rusi, as head of the TV school and well-known academic and director Dr. Christopher John as head the performance school.
Then in Durban respected filmmaker Richard Green has been appointed head of the film school, with award-winning actor/playwright and director, Rajesh Gopie is head of the performance school and Franco Human, moves from the Cape Town campus where he held the position of deputy undergraduate course director and producing lecturer, to take up the position as dean of school in Durban.
Purkey appointed dead designate
Malcolm Purkey, is an award-winning theatre director and playwright, (Breytenbach Epathlon, English Academy Award, and multiple Vita Awards, including Best New South African Play for Love, Crime and Johannesburg and most recently an Fleur du Cap as best director for the Cape Town production of The Girl in the Yellow Dress). He is also a screenplay writer, teacher and academic (Fulbright Scholar), and a founder member and director of Junction Avenue Theatre Company, one of South Africa's leading workshop theatre companies.
"I am really proud to be associated with AFDA, and am excited about moving back into the world of academia and professional studies, and look forward to working with a dynamic and enthusiastic team," says Purkey.
Greg Homann, who has until recently headed up the Writing and Directing programs in the division of Dramatic Arts at the Wits School of the Arts, has a BA Dramatic Arts degree from Wits University and an MA (with distinction) in Text and Performance Studies from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and King's College London. As a theatre director, actor, academic and occasional writer he has worked on a broad range of productions and projects as both a performer and director from comedy to drama, musical theatre to new South African plays.
Brent Quinn describes himself as a South African storyteller with over twenty five years experience working in film, television, film training and advocacy media. His producing and screenwriting work has garnered around 60 global recognitions. He currently consults of various television and feature film projects.
Roy Zetisky, who studied at the Brooks Institute of Film in Santa Barbara, California has years of experience as a producer, director, DOP and photographer. He has been filming and directing commercials and film since 1990 and was a prolific fashion and social documentary photographer for ten years prior to that. He has been executive producer of three major South African production companies, Zigi Films, Fresh Water Films and Pistoleros Films. He is also a partner and director in the feature film company Jet Black Entertainment, launched in 2011, with the production of the feature film The Good Man, for award winning Irish director Phil Harrison, on which Zetisky was producer and director of photography.
"I am most honoured by this appointment and excited about the challenge of making one of the greatest film schools in Africa, even greater," says Zetisky.
Megan Rusi, head of the TV school
Megan Rusi has worked in the television industry for over twenty years as a television journalist as well as presenter, producer and news editor for SABC news and current affairs. She worked as acting editor-in-chief at ETV and was instrumental in setting up ETV's news operation. She's also produced a current affairs programme for the last five years that is broadcast on the DSTV platform, as well as other countries abroad. She has extensive training experience having trained at many broadcast organisations, universities and corporate companies.
Christopher John has a PHD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a masters degree in English from the University of Natal. In 2008 he was a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence in the Theatre Department at California State University Polytechnic, Pomona. He was born in Zimbabwe and travelled to the UK in 1975 where he studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He has experience working with both Western and African theatre companies including with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in the West End, and on Broadway. From 1997 to 2011 he was senior lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies programme at the University of University of KwaZulu-Natal. From 1999 to 2011 he led a Prison Theatre project at Westville Correctional Facility in Durban and ran a project in an informal settlement in Inanda using theatre and video to help heal a community torn apart by political violence.
Franco Human, is excited about the possibilities the new Durban school will offer students and the film and theatre industry. Human, who has been with AFDA for 10 years, started at the Johannesburg school as production co-ordinator and later took up a position as a junior lecturer in the producing department before moving to Cape Town. He has produced many short films, theatre musical productions, a celebrity campaign for M-Net and the SABC, a television series for CTV and an Afrikaans horror feature film as part of his Masters of Fine Art degree (which played to rave reviews), to name a few. He has worked with the lifestyle show "Expresso" on SABC 3 and you may just recognise him as "the guy in the green shorts" doing Zumba.
Richard Green, the Durban-based director/producer, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the mix. Green has a string of well-known films to his name including Spud, District 9, Otelo Burning with his most recent being assistant director on Anant Singh's Long Walk to Freedom, which is currently in post-production.
Rajesh Gopie, head of the performance school
As an actor Rajesh Gopie has worked with many eminent South African directors as well as working with the world renowned, Handspring Puppet Company. He has performed the title role in Hamlet directed by Janet Suzman, which went on to be performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Gopie was a recipient of the prestigious Oppenheimer Grant, which allowed him to train with various teachers in England, including attendance at British American Drama Academy at Baliol College in Oxford during the summer of 2004. He has also acted in a number of major TV shows and films and as a writer, his plays OUT of Bounds and The Coolie Odyssey are now firmly in the cannon of South African theatre classics.
"Accepting this position as head of live performance is a bold step for me," says Rajesh Gopie, whose professional career up until now has been as a 'sole agent' in the tough world of live performance, "but this heralds an exciting new phase in my life and I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and growing a new generation of live performance practitioners."
"AFDA has always and wishes to continue to develop talent that is networked, skilled and enthusiastic about creating culturally-relevant entertainment; producing products for local markets as well as global niche markets," says AFDA co-funder and chairman Garth Holmes. "The ultimate axis on which this creativity sits is in the quality of academics and practitioners of the institution. We have therefore selected individuals for their experience in the entertainment industry as well as their academic and professional achievements."
"It's an exciting new era for us and we have re-structured the schools' management in order to provide a relevant and fruitful education - one that is comparable and in some instances better than the top institutions in the world, and one that meets the challenges of a society that is changing and evolving at an exponential rate," says AFDA co-founder and CEO Bata Passchier.