Anna Klaassen

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Anna Klaassen

(Later, for a while, known as Anna Wensma-Klaassen) (1881/2?-) Actress, vocal artist and director. Born in Amsterdam to a theatrical family, studied at Het Nederlandsch Toneelschool in Amsterdam and became an actress for the Koninklijke Vereniging (royal society) Het Nederlandsch Toneel from 1898-1912. Also developed a reputation as vocal artist ("voordragkunstenaar"). In 1904 she married Jan Wensma, another actor, and had two daughters (Anna and Lina) who both later also became actresses. When the marriage failed she resigned from the company and moved on to what became known as "klein kunst" or "klein toneel" (i.e. lit "little art" or "little theatre", derived from cabaret and similar forms. Creating her own programmes of song, verse and prose, she toured the Netherlands between 1912 and 1919 - building a superb reputation. At the suggestion of Louis de Vries she now set off for India in 1919, where she stays till 1928, doing pioneering theatre work in Dutch there. In 1928 she came to South Africa. Initially touring with speech programmes (e.g. Grootmoeder komt sprookjes vertellen - "Grandmother comes to tell stories"), she then began touring with plays in about 1930. These included Haar Kruis and Napoleon se Wasvrou (lit "Napoleon's Washerwoman"), utilizing local talent such as Siegfried Mynhardt, Stinie Wiid and Mae le Roux. **

The Anna Klaassen Company (Anna Klaassen Geselskap)

An Afrikaans touring theatrical company founded by Anna Klaassen in 1930. Other members were the German actor Willy Wietfeldt and the South Africans Siegfried Mynhardt, Stinie Wiid and Mae le Roux. They toured the country with Haar Kruis and Napoleon se Wasvrou (lit "Napoleon's Washerwoman")* ** ** (See also Anna Klaassen in Section 2 and Binge, 1969.)

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