Australian actor Ningali Lawford-Wolf, who was on tour with the Sydney Theatre Company production of The Secret River, died August 11 in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was 52.
STC’s stage adaptation of Kate Grenville’s novel was playing the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last week as part of an international tour, which is scheduled to arrive at London’s National Theatre August 22.
Lawford-Wolf, who served as the play’s narrator, fell ill late in the Edinburgh run, prompting the cancellation of several performances.
“Ningali was an incredibly talented performer as well as a wonderfully caring and thoughtful person. We’ve lost one of Australian theatre’s greatest treasures,” STC said in a statement announcing her death.
The Indigenous playwright and performer was involved with The Secret River since its development, appearing in its return Sydney season, as well as its 2016 national tour and 2018 Adelaide Festival run.
Based on Grenville’s historical novel about the European colonization of Australia during the 19th Century, The Secret River examines the culture clash between white settlers and the Aboriginal people who called the land home.
Ms. Lawford-Wolf was a Wangkatjungka woman born in the far north Kimberley region of Western Australia. She toured internationally with her solo show Ningali, earning a Green Room Award for Best Actress and a Fringe First Award for Best New Production. Ms. Lawford-Wolf's stage appearances also included Aliwa for Company B Belvoir, as well as Uncle Vanya and Jandamarra for Black Swan Theatre Company. She appeared in the world premiere of The Long Forgotten Dream at the Sydney Opera House in 2018. Her play Windmill Baby, co-written with David Milroy, won the 2003 Patrick White Playwright’s Award. She recently appeared in The Long Forgotten Dream at Sydney Opera House.
Her notable screen performances include the films Rabbit-Proof Fence, Bran Nue Dae, and Last Cab to Darwin, as well as the television series The Circuit, 3 Acts of Murder, Little J & Big Cuz, and Mystery Road.