Margaret Todd was born in 1935 in the UK and passed on to the theatre in the sky 02 September 2017 at the fine age of 82 years.
Life was not easy between wars and during the Second World War and Margaret and her brother were brought up in St Georges children’s home in Harrogate Yorkshire. It was here that her acting career started at the tender age of 8 or 9 in the homes performance of “The Royal Arms”.
The bug had bitten and her passion for acting grew stronger and stronger. After leaving the home she continued with her dream and travelled the country on tour. Life was tough but her passion for acting made up for it.
She eventually settled down and entered nursing becoming a Midwife based in Blackpool North West England – it brings to mind the picture of “Nurse Gladys Emmanuel” from the UK sitcom “Open all Hours.
After moving to South Africa life did not get easier, long hours in the hospital and a young little Murray to bring up. Her final working life was spent not welcoming little fingers and toes into this world but comforting old ladies as a matron of an old age home in JHB, another 24/7 job.
But during all the hardships she still managed to follow her dreams and passion for theatre, entertaining children and adults alike and encouraging and spreading her passion of theatre to as many people as possible.
Margaret was performing, directing and sometimes acting in shows for several of the East Rand societies including Protea. She finally got a permanent home in the “Old Post office in Boksburg and transformed it into a little theatre, and built a reputation for Farce attracting actors from all over the East Rand. It was not long before she built a reputation as ”Queen of South African Farce” and quickly added to her many awards from the AAPA and later SANCTA. BATS, (Boksburg Arts and Theatre Society), was now known throughout what is now Gauteng and beyond.
During this time the bug also bit her son Murray from school plays to community theatre to the professional stage Murray gave her so much joy and pride to see him perform and continue fulfilling what was her passion and dreams.
When the Boksburg Municipality began an upgrade of the Old Post Office unfortunately it turned out a disaster for traditional theatre and BATS effectively closed. At this time Protea who had always had a “resident director” so to speak was struggling that is until Margaret came back to town.
Protea changed it programme from two musicals a year one junior and one senior to one mixed age musical and of course a Margaret farce. Directing the next 19 out of 22 shows she became the Matron of Protea. She was casting and directing the children of the children who performed under her years earlier.
Some of the well-known performers who passed through Protea and benefited from her passion and direction were: – Graham and Christine Weir; Jenny Da Lenta; Ken Robinson; Susan Webster; Nick Steers; Bronwyn Evans; Lee-Ann Shepherd; and by far the most well-known – Monique Nortjie from ‘The Coco Nuts” and Egoli, not forgetting of course Brandon Auret and Murray from just about everything both local and international.
Margaret was many things to many people, a mother, a nurse, a friend, an aunty, a teacher an agony aunt and a pillar of strength. Perhaps her only failing was that she was too trusting of people expecting everyone to be as honest as her. She called a spade a spade, claimed to be suffering from Turrets as many of her theatre children will recognise her sudden screams of “MUFFS”.
Margaret got her way with most things like 99.99% of the time, on stage and set. She took great delight in writing in cameo parts for some of us staunch back-stage actors. Whether it was a voice over, milk man, paper boy, walk-on drunk falling into a coffin, a Pink Rabbit, a Grandfather clock dressed in long johns it was always difficult in fact near impossible to say no.
Some of us still have the bruises from trying!
For what you have given community theatre and especially in recent times to all involved in BATS and Protea Stage Productions there are not enough words to say THANK YOU! You will be sorely missed but in the words of any good show missing a lead actor “the show must go on” and thanks to Margaret Protea will go on.
Rest in peace Margaret the pain is over, from Protea our deepest sympathy and condolences to family and friends and to all those who knew her, be assured you will not be forgotten.