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Vaneshran Arumugam

1st Lang: English (fluent)     2nd Lang: German (fluent)     
Eyes: Brown     Hair: Black     Height: 177     

Vaneshran Arumugam is an independent artist and advocate for the role of the Arts in social justice through Storytelling in its
many formats.
Alongside achieving degrees from Wits, UCT and Columbia University to the Masters level Vaneshran has created and played
various characters that have enjoyed great success with audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds across South Africa,
being well known for his television roles in SOS, Suburban Bliss, Scandal and Streaks. His work in television during South
Africa’s early democracy until now has meant challenging boundaries and demanding more space for black and marginalised
artists to play lead roles, to co-write and to produce and so that even those very categories may be interrogated.
Similarly in theatre, Vaneshran has worked hard to change perceptions of the classics and to challenge audiences and
practitioners on why Theatre and Art is not only relevant, but necessary and what kind of content gets produced and how.
This has meant working on the leading edge of the independent theatre scene, seeking innovative collaborations and
meaningful opportunities to use live performance for Social Justice. Through his work with this philosophy he was awarded a
Ford Fellowship and afforded an MA study at major institutions. Some of Vaneshran’s traditional theatre roles include
Hamlet , which he has played twice in noteworthy productions at the Wits theatre in 1999 and in 2006 for the Royal
Shakespeare Company under the direction of Dame Janet Suzman, for their C omplete Works Festival . His performance at
Stratford upon Avon has been immortalised on the cover of the highly regarded new edition of the Bedford Shakespeare. Most
South African High School graduates will, however, recognise Vaneshran as Othello from the 2008 production at the Baxter
Theatre which became the front cover of the Oxford University Press setwork of the same title for over 7 consecutive years.
Vaneshran’s film credits span a variety of local and international independent and mainstream features and shorts. As an actor
he appears opposite Charlize Theron in ‘The Last Face’, directed by Sean Penn. Locally, he stars with Desmond Dube in Jyoti
Mistry’s acclaimed hard-hitting crime-drama, ‘Impunity’. His contributions to local film, TV and Theatre are not restricted to
acting and he has written, produced and directed in all the media with title’s in Film such as ‘Actorholic’(DIFF 2013) and
theatre productions such Midsummer Night’s Dream (Intimate Theatre 2010, producing/co-directing and starring as Bottom)
and numerous writing and directing credits in Television and video.
 

Vaneshran’s work as a practitioner and researcher in the field of Consciousness and Performance earned him a Fulbright
Scholarship in 2013, which based him at St Francis College in New York City, developing his own curriculum and teaching and
performing at various institutions across Manhattan, including designing and facilitating an experiential arts programme for
learners with Special Needs through the Hungerford Institute. In 2011 Vaneshran presented his work at the World Conference
of Consciousness in Performance, Theatre, Literature and the Arts at Lincoln University in the United Kingdom in collaboration
with writer and educator, Professor Kriben Pillay from the University of Kwazulu Natal.
In line with his profession and desire to give back to society, Vaneshran has also lent his time as a celebrity to worthy causes
as a public speaker and activist for such organisations as POWA (People opposing Women Abuse), Masimanyane Women’s
Support Centre, Ashoka Innovators for the Public, The Men’s March.
Vaneshran was a founder member and trustee of The Turning Point Foundation, an organisation born out of teaching and
training Performing Arts in Pollsmoor Prison and provides a platform for creating access and training in the Performing Arts
to create social change and justice. This in addition to being inducted into the prestigious Ford Foundation International
Fellowship Program Alumni Association, which is also an agency for social justice; and of whose Western Cape chapter,
Vaneshran was Chairperson until the end of 2012.
Vaneshran finds deep reward in those contributions and collaborations that occur on the fringes of the performing Arts
industries, inventing interventions such as the Robben Island Bible Project, which tells the unique, true South African story of
Shakespeare on Robben island; a specific smuggled copy being shared among our most iconic personalities: Mandela,
Kathrada, Sisulu and the like, and the story of Sunny Venkatratnam, former political prisoner and the man who owns this book
that has been so significant. The 2016 project brought together artists from various disciplines, teachers and students, and
engaged collaboratively with different organisations, public institutions and city structures to create an immersive and layered
experience of Story and History - and embodied well the principles of creativity, collaboration, relevance and excellence which
have become hallmarks of Vaneshran’s work.
 

Film Experience

Film Role Director / Production Company
THE LAST FACE UN Staffer dir. Sean Penn
ECHO BEACH Naveed dir. Jyoti Mistry, Shadowy Meadows
COLD HARBOUR Assistant Commissioner dir. Carey McKenzie, Ten 10 Films
COPPOSITES Milo dir. Oliver Rodger
I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU BLACK & WHITE George Best dir. Oliver Rodger
MORE THAN JUST A GAME Indres Naidoo dir. Junaid Ahmed
SCORPION KING: Rise of the Akkadian Cameo dir. Russel Mulcahey
PONDO BICYCLE Lead dir. Jan Ellis
DIE WONDERWERKER Ebrahim Ravat
LADY GREY Kapoor dir. Alain Choquart
IMPUNITY N aveed Khan dir. Jyoti Mistry, Toronto Film Festival and the Durban International Film Festival
JAIL CAESAR Cinna dir. Paul Schoolman,NETFLIX
ACTORHOLIC dir. Oliver Rodger, Durban International Film Festival

Television

Series Role Director / Production Company
DOMINION S2 Pearson dir. Various, Syfy
YOUNG LEONARDO II Scarpa Kindle Entertainment; CBBC
90 PLEIN STREET III Lesley (Lead) dir. Kalo Mathabane
THE PHILANTHROPIST Jivan Bose dir. Andy Wilson, NBC
SCANDAL Sanjay dir. Adrian Alper, ETV
HISTORY OF THE WORLD Auranzeb FILM AFRICA
CENTANARY CELEBRATION OF THE ANC Lead dir. James Ngcobo, SABC
SUBURBAN BLISS 2 dirs. Peter se Puma , Raymond Sargent
STREAKS dir. Gerrit Schoonhoven
SOS ETV

Theatre Experience

Production Role Director / Venue
THE ROBBEN ISLAND BIBLE Lead by. Matthew Hahn
MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM Bottom dir. Guy De Lancy
INTERRUPTING HENRY Adrian Henry dir. Matthew Wild
TEXTURE Collaboration Guy De Lancy and Bronwyn van Graan
OTHELLO Othello dir. Geoffrey Hyland
DARK NIGHT WITH YOU IN THE MOURNING One Man Show Playroom
CISSIE Ensemble dir. Nadia Davids
PAD Collaboration Out The Box Festival
YOU EXPECTED SOMETHING ELSE One man show National Arts Festival
HAMLET,Prince of Denmark Hamlet dir. Janet Suzman, Swan Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN dir. Lara Bye, Baxter
ANTGONE dir. Sean Mathias, Grahamstown Main Festiva
SHAKESPEARE SHOWCASE Various Columbia Universitys Shapiro Theatre, New York City
NOT AN ANGRY APE dir. Prof Kriben Pillay, UKZN
THE GATHERING dir. Deborah Houston, St Francis College Theatre
BRICOLAGE Infecting the City Festival,Slave Church, Cape Town

Training / Experience

Institution Qualification
UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN MA in Performance and Theatremaking
UNIVERSITY OF WITWATERSRAND Bachelor of Arts (Dramatic Art) (Hons)
FULLBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIP Saint Francis College, Brooklyn, New York
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MFA programme with Prof K. Linklater

Special Skills

LANGUAGES
English(fluent), Afrikaans, German(fluent), Xhosa
SPORTS
Self Defense and Martial Arts training in multiple disciplines,Football, tennis, squash, frisbee, athletics, boxing, volleyball
OTHER
Directing (stage and camera),Creative Writing (screen/scriptwriting, literature and poetry),Visual Arts (drawing, graphics, painting), Meditation techniques of various traditions,Yoga,Facilitation and teaching, Stunt and fight choreography for stage and screen,Basic stunt driving,Basic weapons training, Fencing
MUSICAL
Multiple instruments and vocal styles