Durban born director and actress Lara Bye launched her career in Cape Town after studying at the lecoq Theatre School in Paris and working with various companies in Havana, Barcelona and Paris. She is a highly renowned director of opera, theatre and performance events in non-theatre spaces, as well as part time physical theatre Lecturer at UCT’s Drama Department.
Since returning to South Africa from Europe, Lara has worked continuously on all aspects of the theatre as producer, writer, actress and teacher. She has won theatre awards as an actress and director for her work in Dancing at Lughnasa, The comical Tragedy and Everybody else (is fucking perfect). Her most recent show Jesus Hopped the A Train was the second most nominated production at the 2006 Fleur du Cap Awards.
She was selected by Fair Lady magazine as one of 40 South African Women who had been a source of inspiration for the year 2000 and was judged by Style magazine to be the South African ‘IT’ Actress for 2001. These last two acknowledgements were for her performance in the critically acclaimed The Vagina Monologues.
She has worked closely with local writers on new plays, directing 6 new South African plays over the last few years. Her most recent production is the multi award winning Oskar en Die Pienk Tannie starring Sandra Prinsloo. Her production of Nicholas Spagnoletti’s London Road toured extensively and played to sold out houses across SA. Lara has also staged several well-known operas such as The Flying Dutchman and Viva La Mama, to great acclaim. Her Afrikaans work includes the recent Nag, Ma as well as Die Vrou Wat Haar Man Gekook Het and Is Almal Dan Vokken Volmaak.
Other productions include: Yellowman, Ionesco’s The Lesson, for colored girls who considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf and Jesus Hopped The “A’ Train for the Baxter Theatre, Mike Van Graan’s Bafana Republic and Iago’s last Dance, and many more. Lara works with the theatre of suggestion, with small evocative sets that can travel far and wide, with powerful stories and with breathtaking, bold and fearless performances from her casts. Lara has just completed, with Distinction, a two year Master’s Degree in Theatre Directing. Her final thesis “Imag(in)ing the Poetic Body: A directorial approach to heightening text(ure) in performance”, was a return to her studies with Jacques Lecoq. Her thesis production was of young American writer Sarah Ruhl’s contemporary reworking of Eurydice.
- Dancing at Lughnasa
- A worm in the Bud
- The Vagina Monologue
- Los Tres
- Conversations after a burial
Places to see her in Cape Town: Baxter Theatre, Artscape Theatre, Kalk Bay Theatre
- Fleur du Cap for New Director (2000)
- Style magazine’s South African ‘IT’ Actress (2001)
- KKNK Best Production Award for Yellow Man (2009)
- National Arts Festival Standard Bank Golden Ovation Award for London Road (2010)
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“Lara Bye shows a keen eye for the multi-layered plot and intricate dialogue, wringing the most out of every pun and ensuring the clever wordplay comes fast and furious.” Read our review of Lara Bye’s direction of Richard III at Maynardville Open Air Theatre in 2014.