Antoinette Pienaar

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Antoinette Pienaar (1961- ) is a singer, songwriter, storyteller, actress and herbalist.

For a while she also performed as Antoinette Butler.


Born one of five sisters in Beaufort West, she grew up in Carnavon and studied drama at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Cape Town.

Contribution to South African theatre and performance

As an actress she appeared in Spring Awakening (1984), Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1988), Booms-a-Daisy, Ubu Roi (1987), and In Conversation, Indaba, In Gesprek (1987)

As an alumnus of Stellenbosch University, she was involved in the launch the Afrikaans "Kabaret" tradition in South Africa through her work with authors, composers and directors such as Etienne van Heerden, Hennie Aucamp, Anthony Costandius, Herman Pretorius and Jannie Hofmeyr in Stellenbosch. For example she performed in such cabarets as Ekskuus vir die Wals (a cabaret by Etienne van Heerden), 3-D ( a cabaret by Anthony Costandius) for the Libertas Theatre Club in 1984, Visagieand ** (a cabaret by Hennie Aucamp) for the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in 198*.

In 1988 she performed as a singer in The Melody Lingers On (a narrated musical tribute to Irving Berlin by Henry Holloway), performing with Marilyn Verster, De Wet Wraight and musician and composer Derek Fordyce.

She later went on to one-woman cabarets (Porta for Sale and Putting on the Ritz) also with Fordyce, gradually developing her own style of writing and musical performance. Working with her own Marimba style group, Asazi Makwheru/Die Skietsels, she began to develop a kind of musical storytelling which made her a unique presence in the theatre of the 1990s, developing shows like Krotoa (1995), Allie anner Vrouens (1996), Gorrels ytie Groot Garob and Die Gariep Roep (1996). At the 1999 KKNK Festival she performed in Johanna a music drama with the verses of Leipoldt's set to music by Derek Fordyce in 1999.

In 2000 she began working with composer/accompanist Jacques Geldenhuys , to create more cabaret performances involving songs and her tales of the Karoo. Among them Antoinette se Konsert ("Antoinette's concert") at the Teaterhuisie in 2001, Vuur innie water ("Fire in the water") for the Groot Marico Kunstefees, 2002.


In 2001, severely weakened after contracting cerebral malaria in West Africa, she returned to the Beaufort West region to settle on Theefontein, a sheep farm owned by her second cousin Jacques Pienaar.

Travelling from there to perform on occasion, she also began a seven year apprenticeship with the legendary oom ("uncle") Johannes Willemse, a traditional healer. In 2003 she began broadcasting throughts and ideas about healing Karoo herbs in a the popular health programme called Kruie kraai koning (lit "herbs are king") on Friday afternoons, as a contribution to Amore Bekker's Tjailatyd ("going home time") on the Afrikaans radio station Radio Sonder Grense ("radio without boundaries", best known as RSG). (The programme also has a website.)

In 2009 she published a book with Umuzi (Random House Struik) about the health benefits of Karoo herbs, called Kruidjie Roer My (literally "Little herb move me", named after a plant called "kruidjie roer my nie") in Afrikaans and The Griqua's Apprentice - Ancient healing arts of the Karoo.


ADA No 11. 1992. Cape Town A-Z.

Krit, 31 March 1996.

Krit, 2 April 1996.

Beeld Kalender, 13 August 1996.

Beeld, 28 September 2001.

Rekord Moot, 28 September, 2001

Vrouekeur, 16 Maart 2018

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