Theatre stalwart Graham Weir dies

Confident in his beard, Graham Weir.

Singer, actor, composer and playwright Graham Weir passed away unexpectedly yesterday, Tuesday December 1. Until recently he lived in Wynberg but moved to the country with his partner Darron Araujo.

The news was announced by his sister Christine Weir, who is also a singer and actress. Graham suffered what seems to have been a stroke and was taken to Tygerberg Hospital. Because of Covid-19 protocols, the hospital staff reported that he passed away softly and peacefully in the early hours of this morning, she wrote on social media. “We respectfully ask that you don’t call us just yet as we come to terms with our grief, but instead we ask that you light a candle for Graham. Much love to you all,” wrote Christine.

In an interview last year, apart from being confident in his beard, Graham attributed his successful career to the uniqueness of his voice which allowed him to cover both baritone and tenor vocals in a single performance.

Born in Scotland in 1959, he came to South Africa at the age of 5, when the family settled in Benoni. His parents started an amateur dramatics club and ran a choir, which is where his love of the performing arts began.

He studied for a year at Wits Drama school, then some time at Pretoria Technikon. He then went to England to dodge the draft, before returning to work in theatre in a variety of capacities. In 1981 he began to work for the Performing Arts Council of Transvaal (PACT) where he appeared in 24 productions, including as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night – for which he was nominated at the Dalro Awards as Best Actor.

He has performed for all the major South African producers in musicals. Lead roles include JC Superstar, Sweeny Todd, Queen At the Opera and Hair, Shakespeare productions, Winter’s Tale, As You Like It, Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Merchant of Venice as Antonio.

He self-penned, produced and acted in the multi-award winning Brief Descriptions 2, Tales from a Dark Corner, Psychedelic Cowboy and Sister Nun and the critically acclaimed Letters from Patient Essop, A Circus Side Show and Noah of Cape Town.

Through his long-lived passion he went on to rake in multiple theatre awards including two FNB VITA awards in the 1990s for his play Brief Descriptions.

As part of Not the Midnight Mass, he won the Naledi award in 2011 and then he also won for Dead Yellow Sands at Baxter in 2016. He was nominated for best actor about 11 times before he won the award. He was also a popular yoga instructor in Wynberg and Constantia.

The news about this death has been attracting numerous tributes and condolences via social media from friends and others.

“Our beloved neighbour until a few months ago … he was a committed resident of Wynberg and enthusiastic WRRA member,” wrote Joan Van Zyl of the Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers Association.

The Baxter Theatre’s Fahiem Stellenboom wrote: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Graham Weir. Not only was he an extraordinarily talented artist and performer, he was also a beautiful human being. This is another sad loss for the arts and music communities. Our deepest condolences to Graham’s family and closest friends. We wish them strength and light during this difficult time. Rest peacefully Graham, may your beautiful voice and soul soar with the angels.”

Details of a memorial service were not yet available at the time of publication.

Graham Weir in Dead Yellow Sands, 2016
Graham Weir in Hotel, 2016
Graham Weir in 2013
Graham Weir in 2013
Graham Weir in Fugard’s Blue Iris, 2012
Graham Weir as Lear in 2012
Graham Weir as Lucky in 2010
Graham Weir in 2009
Graham Weir in JC Superstar in 1991

Amanda Tiffin, Christine Weir and Graham Weir in Not The Midnight Mass