“…it’s wonderful being in a profession where you don’t know for sure if it might be wonderful or not…it just takes one phone call…”

Like a boxer Nicky Rebello skirted around the fringes of anti-Apartheid protests, diving in, gloves on, delivering a furious swing from the left when he found the chance. His attack came in the form of words, plays at the Market and political satire in venues like the famed Jamesons in Hillbrow. His writing forms a record of life in urban South Africa in the 80s.

He was called to do army service in the notorious 32nd Battalion under the command of the merciless Colonel Jan Breytenbach. Experiences that would leave scars buried beneath his skin. When Christopher Charles wanted to create a play about the Angola war, Nicky became his reference. The result was the play Walking Wounded.

When he attended the memorial service for Dr. Neil Aggett who was killed in detention, he found like-minded thespians. He met Malcolm Purkey there who gave him a role in his next play Marabi. This became his springboard into the Market, where he fell under the mentoring eye of Barney Simon.
His first writing project at UCT was for Mike Kirkwood his creative writing teacher and future controversial editor of Ravan Press and founder of the literary magazine Staffinder. So impressed was he, he handed it on to Barney Simon. This formed the basis of the play Outers, an important work undertaken by Barney Simon in 1985. Simon sent seven performers into parks, streets and work-places, “in character”, to hunt for jobs, food, and bum cigarettes and handouts. It was Simon’s signature method of work-shopping, wanting actors to research and gain new material from the people they moved among.

As both an actor and writer he won the respect and confidence of Athol Fugard who asked him to oversee the American film director of Fugard’s biographic play Master Harold and the Boys.

Between a great number of acting roles, he has continued writing: biographic plays on Hermann Charles Bosman and Eugene Marais among his most successful.

Acting is however, his first love, whether film or stage. It is acting that sets him alight and it is acting to which he has returned.