The past fifty years in South Africa have been tumultuous and it was during this time that theatre reached a pinnacle of creativity and originality. Those who participated and survived at all costs had to be resilient and inventive. It is hoped that students and scholars can use this website to learn more about their craft, what it takes to be an impresario, theatre manager, director, a producer, playwright, actor or technician.
The criteria chosen is that each person must be over 60 years old and has given a lifetime to the theatre, in other words they have single mindedly followed their passion, and thereby moulded and given shape to South African theatre and by so doing enriched our society as a whole.
Each person tells forthrightly, with no restraint, of their lifelong pursuit; you will hear why and how they started, what drove them, how they survived the harsh irrational restrictions of South African politics, apartheid and the fickleness of the censor board, the cultural boycott. Above all else they never gave up their dream to express, to entertain, to make theatre, to find a voice, to be heard, to protest, to create, to write, act, sing, dance or to make music. This is a record of astonishing lives; by sharing their experiences they will give insight into their vision and the perseverance required to succeed. What is presented here is a history of a time, sometimes glamorous, mostly inspiring, informative and thought provoking.
These interviews are not censored; they have not been edited down. They are spoken from the heart. The ingredient common to them all is Passion.
How to use this website
The disciplines included are drama, music and dance. People are loosely grouped into categories for practical reasons, but obviously many of these theatre greats belong in all categories – how does one categorize David Kramer for example? He has engulfed our stages with music, dance and unique stories
Where possible text information has been added when names are mentioned that might be unfamiliar to the viewer; the intention is to expand the viewer’s knowledge of theatre in general as well as to bring attention to the rich history of theatre in South Africa.
For convenience the interviews are divided into PARTS or chapters that loosely follow periods in the person’s life. Included is a short 30/60 second TEASER – to give the viewer a taste of the person being interviewed.
This website is dependent on private funding. This first phase was recorded in 2016/7 and proudly funded by The Cape Town Theatre Trust. We thank them for their foresight and their interest in creating an online archive whereby students, needing to learn more about their craft, can hear from the masters who have gone before.
This website is a tribute to all these participants who, through their stories, tell of their extraordinary lives of achievement and their contribution to our theatre history. We thank them.
We wish to thank Temple Hauptfleisch founder and project director of the Encyclopedia of South African Theatre www.esat.sun.ac.za whose website has been infinitely useful in our research. We do not list all the productions and awards of the people interviewed. For this information please visit the esat site.
It is our hope that this archive will be widely used by both researchers and academics, as well as anyone who has a love of culture and a thirst for knowledge of the diverse and lavish history of South Africa’s performing arts.
This website allows public access to an archive of recorded video interviews conducted with theatre personalities – Each is a one-on-one interview and not a documentary.
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Research and interviews Peter Bode
Produced and edited by Lillias Bode
Design elements of this Website by Amilcar De Carvalho www.battalionmedia.tv
Website design Nudge Studio
Home page photographs courtesy Mia van der Merwe and Rufin Coudyzer