Obituary: Drama doyen Rosemary Bamford

2014-12-18 00:00

ROSEMARY Bamford, a legend of the Pietermaritzburg drama and theatre production scene, passed away on Friday at the Riverside Nursing Home. She was 80 years old. Bamford had never married.

Close friends and colleagues yesterday mourned the passing of the woman who was the founder of the drama department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and was with the department for 34 years.

Former colleague Peter Mitchell, who worked with her on many plays, described the news of her death as a shock.

“She was quite old and ill, but this was still a shock, we thought that she was getting better.”

He said he had worked with Bamford for 15 years until she retired in 1994.

“She was quite a remarkable woman … Very passionate about theatre, about drama and about teaching, she was also very demanding.”

He said one of the memorable plays they worked together on was a Greek play.

“She displayed formidable knowledge of the Greek theatre and she could adapt plays to modern times.”

Paul Datlen, a colleague and friend for the past 29 years, said he last saw Bamford the day before she died.

“I went to visit her but she was fast asleep, I did not have the heart to wake her up so I left and I sent an SMS to her to say that I had been there to visit … I was very sorry she died.

“She was a passionate woman, she was passionate about drama. She taught me everything I know about drama and poetry,” he said.

Datlen said beside the arts, ­Bamford was also an avid bird watcher and he recalled some amusing ­moments when they visited a game reserve.

“There was a reserve in Northern KZN where she liked to go. One time … we saw white rhino.

“The ranger told us to be very still. Something frightened one rhino and it ran towards us. The rhino was not charging but I remember Bamford and another member of our party running towards a tree and trying to climb it. The tree was very small they could not climb so that was very amusing.”

He said Bamford will be sorely missed by many people who knew her and for her contribution in drama.

Datlen said Bamford’s friends will hold a memorial service at her house in Winterskloof tomorrow.

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