Neil Coppen

Neil Coppen is a writer, director and activist based in Durban, South Africa. In 2011 Coppen was named the Standard Bank Young Artist for Drama and featured on the Mail & Guardian’s 200 most influential Young South Africans list. More recently Coppen was awarded the Olive Schreiner Prize for Drama 2019. Coppen’s work has been performed internationally and his plays are taught in schools and universities both in South Africa and abroad. Some of Coppen’s most acclaimed works include Tin Bucket Drum, Tree Boy, Abnormal Loads, Izipopolo, NewFoundLand. His all-female cast, adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm toured the country for over five-years. Earlier this year, Coppen served as dramaturge for Canada’s leading contemporary Indigenous dance company. He is currently in pre-production for an ambitious South African reimagining of Hamlet for the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town.

Empatheatre was founded by Neil Coppen, Mpume Mthombeni and Dylan McGarry in 2014. The South African theatre company and methodology has been heralded for its unique approach which sees the creative team forging creative responses to complex social concerns while uniting a range of stakeholders including policy-makers, citizens, indigenous knowledge holders, storytellers, artists, musicians, activists, human-rights lawyers and academics.