Temple Hauptfleisch

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(1945-) Academic, theatre researcher, archivist, critic, historian, lecturer, dramatist and occasional actor.


Born on 27 June 1945 in Bloemfontein, to George Stephanus Hauptfleisch and Katerina Dafina Hauptfleisch (néé Du Plessis). Married Karina Lou Bekker in 1968 and the couple have two children, IT Company director Anzel Mercker and theatre practitioner Gaerin Hauptfleisch.


Had his schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein (1950-1962), then went to the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS) to complete a BA in English and Latin, and a BA Hons in English (1963-1969). Further studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA) led to an M.A. in English in 1972 with the thesis Greek Dramatic Conventions in Modern Drama and a D.Litt. et Phil. in 1978 with the title The Play as Communication: A Study of the Language of Drama.


Became a teacher at Grey College in 1968, where he co-founded the Grey College Dramatic Society with Charles Malan in 1969, and was a part-time actor and front of house manager for the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS).

In 1972 joined the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria as sociolinguist, from 1978 head of the National Documentation Centre for the Performing Arts, later the Centre for South African Theatre Research (CESAT).

From 1988-1994 senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department, lecturing on theatre history and theory, and running workshops in playwriting. In 1994 founded the Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies and later became professor and elected Chair of the Department (1995-2005) and director of the H.B. Thom Theatre (1995-2003). After retiring as chair, served as research professor and Director of the Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies (2006-2009).

Retired from the university in 2010 to devote his time to ESAT and other research ant theatre projects.

Other academic positions

A member of numerous academic societies, he has held executive positions in a few, including:

Founding member and first secretary of the South African Association for Drama and Youth Theatre (SAADYT)

Founder and former chair of the South African Society Theatre Research (1999-2002)

Member of the executive of the International Federation for Theatre Research (1998-2007).

Editorial work

Founding editor of the SAADYT Journal

Co-founder, co-editor and publisher of the South African Theatre Journal (with Ian Steadman) (1987-1997), later sole editor & publisher (1998-2010), co-editor (with Petrus du Preez) (2011-2013). Stepped down from the editorial board in 2014.

Has also been a member of the editorial boards of the journals Critical Arts, Shakespeare in South Africa (1986-1990), African Performance Review (2006-), Perfformio (2008-), Critical Perspectives (2007-), and Critical Stages (2008-).

On the editorial board for the Rodopi book series Themes in Theatre: Collective Approaches to Theatre and Performance (Editor Peter Eversman) and


Besides a number of publications on various aspects of the sociology of language (including a 4 volume report on Language Loyalty in South Africa), he has written and published more than eighty works on the history of South African theatre, research methodology and the sociology of theatre since 1978, including numerous encyclopaedia entries on aspects of theatre and performance in the country for international publishers, and 8 book-length publications on the history and sociology of South African and international theatre. (See South African Theatre/Bibliography for a full list of his publications.)

The most influential books have been Athol Fugard: A Source Guide (Co-authors: Wilma Viljoen and Celeste Van Greunen, Johannesburg: Ad Donker, 1982), South African Theatre - Four plays and an Introduction (Co-author & -editor with Ian Steadman, Pretoria: De Jager-HAUM 1984), The Breytie Book: Essays on South African Theatre. (Johannesburg: The Limelight Press, 1985), Theatre and Society in South Africa: Reflections in a Fractured Mirror (J.L. van Schaik, 1997), Festivalising! Theatrical Events, Politics and Culture (co-edited with Shulamith Lev-Aladgem, Jacqueline Martin, Willmar Sauter and Henri Schoenmakers, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 2007). He has written more than eighty works on the history of South African theatre, research methodology and the sociology of theatre since 1978, including numerous encylopaedia entries on aspects of theatre and performance in the country for international publishers and 8 book-length publications.

Since his retirement from the University of Stellenbosch in 2010, he has undertaken ongoing research with The African Theatre and Performance Working Group of the IFTR, and begun to devote his time to the online, open access archival/publication project entitled is the Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre, Film, Media and Performance (ESAT), which he first began in about 2000, but formally set up in 2010. He is the current project leader and chief editor.

Plays and play collections

As playwright and editor he has edited 11 play-collections for schools and author of 15 plays. Prominent plays are Wie is Leopold?(1971), Bloedlyn [Bloodline] (1974), Op Salvokop (1984?), André (1985?) and One for the Road to Damaskus (2002 - a play developed with the aid of a National Arts Council grant).

Awards and distinctions

Winner, ATKV One-Act Playwriting Competition 1971 (with Wie is Leopold?).

[[Vita Award for Theatre Research]] (1982)

Rector’s Award for Outstanding Research, Stellenbosch University (1999)

Since 2002 has held a B-rating as researcher from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) (since 2002).

In 2013 received the Kuns Onbeperk Toekenning ("Art Unlimited Award") for services to the arts.


Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

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