ARMED WITH RELENTLESS creative energy and passion, a hefty respect for the craft of performance and a crooked grin, Pieter Howes (formerly Pieter Bosch Botha), charmed the theatre industry and made audiences laugh until they wept for almost 30 years. He took his life on May 4, 2019. He was 34 years old.
Defining theatrical roles such as KykNet’s colourful and controversial Lammetjie Koekemoer, Howes was a deeply intense young man who feared very little and believed, above all in the power of kindness. He defined his own career, becoming the first resident director of the Roodepoort Civic Theatre between 2007 and 2009, a couple of years after he had matriculated.
But his love for the theatre industry was sown long before then. The youngest child of renowned actors At Botha and Annelise Bosch, who were associated with the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal before it was disbanded, Howes debuted as a performer in a television advert at the age of six. And the theatre-loving seeds were planted.
The list of shows in which Howes was involved either in front of the director’s chair or in it, is long, from Liewe Heksie to Soul Buddyz, Hats to Fully Committed and Double Bass, with so much more in between. During his short but intensive career he defined himself by his energy, his opinions and his willingness to give of himself. He was known presence on South African television soapies, in which he also had a hand in scriptwriting. And the pen became an important instrument to him, as he developed his career.
Fiercely left wing, he argued politically in the name of justice, was a determined Economic Freedom Fighters supporter and developed his presence online as a social and political commentator. Deeming himself an activist for gay rights, he worked hard in the areas supporting black equality and engaged fiercely around concepts such as white privilege and white fragility.
In 2010, he founded his own production company Boschwhacked Productions, in which he was able to capitalise on the many skills he had imbibed during his career. He had been mentored by Janice Honeyman, and his love of everything from sparkly comedy to children’s theatre to mime, grew out of this.
In 2010, Howes was the first official employee of ASSITEJ South Africa, the local branch of international children’s theatre association, and worked as personal assistant to Yvette Hardie, the organisation’s South African president. In this capacity, he learnt at the foot of movers and shakers and put his contagious energy into theatre projects for youth.
Born on March 12, 1985, Howes was schooled at the National School of the Arts and matriculated in 2003 with almost 100% for his elective specialisation in drama. He was lauded amongst the top eight students of his year.
Howes leaves his husband, Craig Howes, a medical doctor, his father, mother and stepfather, Arnold Hoon; siblings, Helena Oberholzer and Johan Botha, and literally millions of people whose life he touched.