Akademie vir Dramakuns
An Afrikaans training institution for speech and drama. Also known by its acronym: ADK
The founding year
("The Academy for Dramatic Art") was an enormously influential Organisation providing training for performers in Afrikaans, originally founded as Die Kunsskool ("The Art School") in Stellenbosch in 1939 by Aletta Gericke and Anna Richter-Visser.
Expansion and impact 1940-1960
It changed its name to Die Akademie vir Dramakuns in 1940, when Suzanne van Wyk replaced Richter-Visser, who had moved to Bloemfontein to continue the classes there. The activities were then gradually extended to Cape Town, Paarl and Wellington.
During the 1940s the two founding members, joined by Milla Louw, opened studios in Johannesburg and Pretoria, while Babs Laker took over the management of the Cape Town activities. The Paarl branch was run by ADK alumna Joey de Koker. Popularly known as the ADK, the Organisation filled an enormous need at the time, since there was no formal training available for performers for stage, radio and film, though the University of Stellenbosch was offerring voice training and dramatic art as part of the training offerred by the Conservatoire of Music there. (See University of Stellenbosch Drama Department).
The gradual appearance of drama departments in the Afrikaans language tertiary institutions in Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein between 1960 and 1975 reduced the ADK’s impact as prime provider of performers in Afrikaans, though its role as preparatory training institution and its effect on amateur theatre remained significant well into the 1980s.
The passing and retirement of most of the major figures in the Organisation however eventually closed it down in the Western Cape in 1993, though still going strong in Gauteng. On 1 April 2001 the Western Cape branch was reopened by Elzeth Germishuys and Marinda Engelbrecht at the Welgemoed Art School at Welgemoed Primary School.
The ADK provided initial training to many performers who were to play important roles in the industry, some of whom went on to tertiary training at Universities or Technikons, while others went directly into the industry,
Among its luminous graduandi are Annie Basson, Susan Coetzer, Joey de Koker, Henry Mylne, Woutrine Theron, Hannes Botha, Johannes Kerkorrel (Ralph Rabie), Selma van der Vyver, Danie Joubert, Wilna Snyman, Margo Luyt, Marius Weyers, Dawid Minnaar, Danie Botha, Gerard Scholtz, Joanie Combrink, Hans Strydom, Anna-Mart van der Merwe and Annelisa Weiland.
The ADK also produced some notable firsts in South African theatre. For example the first performance in Afrikaans of a Greek play (Euripides’s The Women of Troy in 1944, translated as Die Vroue van Troje by J.P.J. van Rensburg, directed by Truida Louw), a passion play with an all-black cast at Botshabelo outside Bloemfontein, directed by Sara Louw in the 1960s, *****.
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