Aurora as name
Name, deriving from the Latin term for "dawn" and referring to the goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology, was used by two or three amateur theatre organizations in the Cape in the 19th century. Probably intended to reflect the cultural aspirations of the emerging South African Cape-Dutch and Afrikaans culture at the time.
Theatrical companies named Aurora
There have been three such companies in South Africa, Dutch Rederijkerskamers (oratory-clubs), which also interested themselves in theatre. In later years writers (e.g. F.C.L. Bosman) distinguished between them by naming them Aurora I, Aurora II and Aurora III.
Aurora I, Paarl (1862-?)
A Dutch-language society called Aurora was apparently founded in Paarl by members of "Die Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners", though little of substance is known of it. Among its members were S.J. du Toit, D.F. du Toit ("Oom Lokomotief"), W.F. Stamrood, .
Intended to help establish and promote the Dutch language and culture in the face of the Anglicisation policies of the British government, it did occasional theatrical presentations, for cultural and other purposes. For instance it performed the Dutch plays Rocco by A. Wijnstok and Schijn Bedriegt ("appearances deceive") by "Neef Paul", along with recitals of lyric poetry, as its first production in August 1862 and during its existence also produced some of the earliest Afrikaans playtexts, notably the first translation of De Jonge Kunstschilder by ***, directed by "Oom Lokomotief" and performed in Paarl and Montagu. Bosman (1928:P. 463) also mentions a charity performance in 1865 for victims of floods in the Kuilsrivier area.
Aurora II, Cape Town (1866-1887)
The new Aurora was founded as formal and public Dutch Rederijkerskamer (oratory club) on 4 October 1866, the second such organization to be opened in the Cape Province (after Thespis). Its motto was "Onvermoeide vlijt komt alles te beoven" (The founders consisted of a number of new arrivals from Holland, including W.F. Stamrood, J. Stamrood, M. Stamrood, F. Koster, and M. Gÿselman.
Established in Cape Town as a closed society under the motto Onvermoeide vlijt komt alles te boven ("Untiring hard work overcomes everything"), the rest of its members consisted of leading Dutch and Cape-Dutch families. Among them were such Dutch performers as P. Koster, N.C. Koster, P.W. Keytel, J. Keytel, G. van Heerde, J.M. Belinfante, P. Faddegon, J. de Jongh, C. Kruze, H.P. de Krielen, J. Klerck and J. Kurtz. Especially notable were a number of Dutch-speaking Afrikaners, including J.H. Laubscher, Mr Wiehahn, W.G. Combrink, D.H du Toit, J. Brink, M.J. Brink and H.W. Teengs. A number of these people contributed plays for performance, such as J.M. Belinfante, P. Faddegon, N.C. Koster and especially H.W. Teengs. However, perhaps its best known writer and member was actor, director and playwright Melt J. Brink (1842-1925), who soon became its secretary and guiding light, remaining in this position till 1887, and wrote fourteen comedies for performance by the company (See Melt J. Brink).
Initially no women were allowed to be members and men played the female parts, but according to ** women became part of the association from 11 July 1876, when a woman finally appeared in a production (Het Ijzeren Masker), at the Oddfellows Hall. (F.C.L. Bosman, 1980, however says this breakthrough for women only came in 1881, and the person in question was a miss Anna Koster.)
Although initially loyal to the British authorities, it steadily became a standard-bearer for the emergent Cape-Dutch (and ultimately Afrikaans) nationalism. However, its Dutch orientation gradually alienated it from the mainstream Afrikaans theatre.
Aurora was temporarily suspended during the first war of independence ("Eerste Vryheidsoorlog" or the First Anglo-Boer War) in 1880, and by 1887 had ceased to perform. It formally became defunct in 1890. Boer War
Aurora followed the Dutch pattern of concentrating on poetry and plays under the guidance of professional teachers. Styling their theatrical evenings a s "meetings" , they initially tended to present fragments from plays and poems by a range of Dutch poets and playwrights, but after Brink took over, they began to perform complete works as well, a number written specifically for the Rederijkers movement in Holland and Belgium (notable examples being a large number of works by authors such as Arnold, E. Nieuwmeyer, J. Schuitemaker, A.A. van der Stempel Jr. and T. van der Stempel), and gradually also performing plays by local authors, among whom H.W. Teengs and Melt Brink himself.
Aurora never had its own premises, but performed in a variety of halls and theatres in and around Cape Town, including the Liedertafel Germania (or Germania Hall), cnr Hout and Loop streets, the Oddfellows Hall in Plein Street, and "de zaal van den Heer Hutchinson" (Hutchinson's Hall) in Nieuw Street, also known as the Athenaeum Hall. As a result productions were simply and portably done, and the authors had to bear this in mind.
Between 1866 and 1887 they did a sum total of 103 "meetings", plus another 15 which offered repeats of the programmes from previous meetings.
(Only plays performed for the first time by Aurora II in the particular year are given - further productions or repeats of the specific play will be listed in the entry on the play. For a full list of all performances, see F.C.L. Bosman, 1980: pp. 462-474.)
In 1866-67: Besides recitals of poems, they performed segments form a few plays in the hall of the Liedertafel Germania, Cape Town, including Montigny (Klijn), Tzaar Peter, Keizer van Rusland, Lodewijk XI (Delavigne/Schimmel), Hambroek (Nomsz), Gustaaf Wasa (Von Kotzebue/Van Heyst). A few shorter plays were also performed in there entirety, among them Tante Trui, Een Liefdesgeschiedenis (Arnold), Jan Sukkel (Arnold), Niet of Graag (Andersen), Een Hedendaagsch Duel (Guiseppe).
In 1868 the productions take on a more traditional character, full plays being performed alongside the popular recitals. Besides repeats from the previous period, new plays done this year included Het Vierde Huwelijk van Jacoba van Beijeren (Teengs), Uitgefloten (Arnold), De Arme Rykaard (Nieuwmeyer), Ferdinand de Speler (Nieuwmeyer), Bergen en Dalen (Benedix and Schuitemaker), Willem Nel (Teengs), De Oudste Zoon (Van de Velde), Bertram de Cipier (Arnold), De Twee Huisknechts, of De Bedrieger Bedrogen (Arnold), Manke Koos (Arnold) and Opstand 1815 (Teengs).
In 1869: The new plays done in this year included De Moord van Dingaan aan Pieter Retief (Teengs), No. 99 (Arnold), Het Origineele Testament (Brink), Het Laatste Levensuur van een Oranjeklant (Arnold), De Plaatsvervanger (Arnold), De Liefhebbery Comedie in de War (A.A. van der Stempel), Frank, de Gierigaard (Arnold), De Vriend Tegen Wil en Dank (A.A. an der Stempel), Het Spook, of de Bekering van Dr Peperhoofd (Brink), Een Droom (Arnold), Goede Harten (Schuitemaker), Verkeerd Bezorgd (T. van der Stempel).
In 1870: This year saw a number of works by T. van der Stempel among the new works done by the company, which included Rocco (Arnold), Liberaal en Conservatief, of De Verkiezingsrage (A.A. van der Stempel Jr), De Opkomst van het Huis Rothschild (T. van der Stempel), Liefde, Vriendschap en List (T. van der Stempel), Gustaaf Heller, of Het Offer der Verleiding (T. van der Stempel), Een Ongelukkig Minnaar, of De Mislukte Liefdesverklaring (T. van der Stempel), Retief Gewroken (Teengs), Het Spook (Brink), Het Testament (Van de Velde), Twee Emmers Water (), Miskend (Meys), Hans de Kruyer in 't Verhoor (Schoonhoven and Van Nooten), Een Offer der Vrijheid (Schuitemaker), Naar de Diamant Velden (Brink) and De Nieuwe Landheer, of De Gewaande Marquis (Engelman).
In 1871: The new work performed in this year included In den Kerker van Simancas (Van der Bergh), Een Uurtje op 't Kantoor (Egmond), Misdaad en Wroeging (Meys), De Weddenschap (Brink), Een Uurtje in een Schilders-Ateljelier (Houtcamp), De Tovenaar, of De Geest in de Kast (Brink), De Bloedgetuigen (N.N.), Een Stoute Daad (Jaco), Het Hotel Wittebrood (Van Buren), De Boodschapper op Loevestein (Kroon), Knoopen in den Zakdoek (Anon), Twee Oude Gekken in de Klem (Van der Stempel), Een Reis met Hindernissen, of De Speler Bekeerd (Brink), De Wees uit het Gebergte (Nieuwmeyer), Zonder Geld op Reis (A.A. van der Stempel Jr).
In 1872: Another full year with the following new works performed: De Dochter van Dominique (Van der Hoop), Willem van Oranje, of Vijftien Jaren uit de Geschiedenis (Durand/G. de J.), Dood of Niet Dood (), De Drie Verliefde Schoolmeesters (Brink), Getrouwheid (De Jager), Schout Papegaai (), De Vadervloek, of Misdaad en Wroeging (J. van der Stempel), Wie is de Prins? (A.A. van der Stempel Jr), Een Oom uit Californië (Hoek), De Ster van de Noorden (Belinfante), Een Muzikale Gek (Koster), Een Lotery (Brink), Een Bloedgetuie (Schuitemaker) and De Kater, of De Verdronken Minnaar (Van Hogezand).
In 1873: This year had slightly fewer productions, new titles being Onteerd (Anon), Een Jaloersche Dwaas (A.A. van der Stempel Jr), De Diamanten der Kroon (Belinfante), Die Val van die Hertog van Alba (Schuitemaker), De Onaangename Huishoudster (Brink), De Bloedzuigers, of De Minnehandel in de Apotheek (Ruysch), Het Kind van den Huize (Farber), Haat en Liefde (Bonin/Moolenijzer), Trouw Beloond, of De Zegepraal de Onschuld (Brink), Hij moet Duelleren (A.A. van der Stempel Jr).
In 1874: The productions fewer than before, only six evenings recorded, but most plays performed were new works, including Vader en Zoon (Ankersmit), Een Oude Rat in de Val (Schuitemaker), Twee Dooven (Brink), De Misdadigers, of Loon naar Werken (Brink), Zonder Geld op Reis, of Een Avontuurtje van Twee Schoolmeesters (A.A. van der Stempel Jr), Huzaar en Pandoer (Schücking/Faddegon), Het Losse Schot (Holtrop), Arthur de Beaumont, of De Franctireur van Neufville (A.A. van der Stempel), Een Misverstand (Faddegon), Een Oud Soldaat (Nieuwmeyer) and Het Hotel Wittebrood (Van Buren).
In 1875: In this year the performances move to the Athenaeum Hall in Cape Town, with the following new plays. De Vadersvloek, of Misdaad en Wroeging (T. van der Stempel), Een Avontuurtje van Mijnheer Kikkerlib (T. van der Stempel), De Tijdgeest (Brink) , Het Testament voor eene Slavin (Faddegon), Een Vergeetachtig Man (N.N.), De Twee Broeders (Brunings), De Uniformrok van Veldmaarschalk Wellington (Von Kotzebue), Geschiedkundig Dramatisch Episode uit Leven van Johan de Witt, Raadpensionaris van Holland, "1672" (Loosjes), Broederhaat, of Het Einde van Een Booswicht (Heroldt), De Regtvaardige Vergelding (Kind) and De Hoogste Wensch (De Regt).
In 1876: In this year the only used the Oddfellows Hall, the few new plays including Een Huis te Koop (Duval/Leonard), Het Ijzeren Masker (Schokke), Engeland in het Jaar 1651, of Deugd en Misdaad (Ziegler/Roobol) and De Zaakwaarnemer (F. van der Stempel).
In 1877: In this year the only used the Athenaeum Hall and tended to do only one long play per evening. The few new plays included Lazaro de Verhoeder, of Misdaad en Wraak (Bouchardy/Tiggelaar), De Offers der Vrijheid, of De Slagers van Ghent (Brink), De Verstrooiden (Van Kotzebue/Van Holtrop), Het Veemgericht, of Misdaad en Grootmoedigheid (Ziegler) and Gustavus, of De Zweedsche Mijnwerkers (Martelière).
In 1878: Only three theatre evenings are recorded for this year, but a number of new plays were performed, including Arthur, of Zestien Jaren Later (Burlage), Een Huwelijksadvertentie, of De Geplaagde Schoolmeester (Broekhoff), De Verloren Zoon, of De Twee Broeders (Brunings), Hy Moet Er Uit en Hy Zal Er Uit (Meys), De Baron van Felsheim, of De Slag bij Friedberg (Bernos) and Een Kapitale Erfenis, of De Corsikaansche Bloedwraak (Anon.).
In 1879: Things picked up a little, though the new practice of doing only one long play per evening seemed to occur more . The few new plays among them include De Wees van Brussel (Ruysch), De Geduchte Rechtbank (Martélière), De Gebochelde, of De Moord in de Slotgracht van Tayhis (Regland).
In 1880: Once more only three theatre evenings are recorded, but this was made up of six new plays. Onteerd (Henle), Een Lastige Overbuur (A.A. van der Stempel Jr), Een Oujaarsavond (Dikema), Het Bedrogen Drietal (Gillissen), De Struikroovers van Kalabrien, of De Onveilige Wildernis by (Tréogate/Engelman), Joost Uilenspiegel (Broekhoff).
In 1881: Another slow year, with four theatre evenings, comprising the following new plays. Getrouwheid, of De St. Bartholemeusnacht van het Jaar 1572 (De Jager), Flik en Flok (Metz), De Boodschapper, of Loevestein in 1570 (Kroon), Hans de Kruier (Anon.), De Eer eens Vaders (Broekhoff), De Neef uit Oost-Indië (Sinderam) and Stille Jan (Arnold).
In 1882: Very few performances this year, with no new plays - all being repetitions from previous years.
In 1883: Performances only resume late, the company playing five times in August of this year, with the following new plays. Pierre de Galeiboef, of De Onschuldige Veroordeelde (Culp), Speculeren, of Misdadig uit Kinderliefde (Broekhoff), De Onbekende Schoone (Broekhoff), Het Zakboek (Von Kotzebue) and Levend Verbrand (Leonard).
In 1884 and 1885: No performances
In 1886: After no performances in the intervening years, this became a relatively busy year with five evenings, introducing the following new plays. De Hugenoten (Meyerbeer, Scribe and Deschamps), Liefde voor het Vaderland (A.A. van der Stempel Jr), Het Brandmerk, of De Twee Galeiboeven (Boirie, Carmouche and Poujol), De Hoed van den Horlogemaker (De Girardin), De Montfordt's (Bergh), De Zwarte Kapitein (Leonard).
In 1887: The final meeting by Aurora II took place on 12 July in the Drill Hall, Cape Town and consisted of performances of Moederliefde en Heldenmoed, of De Gevangenis op het Slot 's Gravensteen te Antwerpen (Ruysch) and De Verstrooiden (Holtrop).
Aurora III, Cape Town (1909-1914)
It would appear that there was an initial attempt in 1901 to revive Aurora under the Cape Town branch of the Algemeen Nederlandsch Verbond (A.N.V. (1901-1903), a cultural association in Cape Town situated in Queen Victoria Street. The committee was chaired by Melt J. Brink]], with Gerrit van Heerde as secretary. However no trace of performances could be found.
A new Aurora was finally established in 1908 with the revival of the A.N.V., and it became the theatre-division of the Algemeen Nederlandsch Verbond. This was probably done in association with members of the former Rederijkerskamer (oratory-club) (Aurora II). It was again led by Melt Brink as chair, with P. Koster as vice-chair, Gerrit van Heerde as secretary, and ordinary members Olga van Oordt and Cath. Doyer.
Besides the executive members, the permanent amateur performers for the company also included Mr Wartema, Mrs Wartema, J.E. de Villiers, E.H. Lucouw, A.E.F. Lucouw, W. Kuperus, C.G.G. Cuchet, A. Kromberg, D. de Groot, Mrs Van Venlo, Mr Daleboudt, R. van Gelderen, J.W. van Lint, J.A.G. Bremer, J.P. Feenstra and J.H. Moll.
The new company lasted till 1914, though there are only records of performances for the years 1909-1912. The year 1913 saw no performances recorded in the annual report and, though there were plans to renew performance activity in 1914. However, circumstances caused the company to suddenly announce a halt in productions shortly after their meeting of 14 March, 1914. Nothing is heard of Aurora or the theatre division after that, though the ANV continued to exist well into the 1980s.
(Performances usually took place in the ANV Saal, and were done on nights when ANV meetings took place. Only plays performed for the first time by Aurora III in the particular year are given - further productions or repeats of the specific play will be listed in the entry on the play. For a full list of all performances, see F.C.L. Bosman, 1980: pp. 476-478.)
In 1909: The first year opened on 3 August with Di Koekdief (Nemo), De Oude en de Nieuwe Tijd (duologue, anon.) and Kluchtige Gerechtszitting (Anon.). The following evenings saw performances of De Gouvernante (Körner), 't Is Maar Een Kind (Anon), Het Geheim van Mevrouw (J.R.),
In 1910: Het Testament (Van de Velde), Zwarte Piet (E.S.), By die Tandedokter (Brink), De Twee Verstrooide Militairen (Kotzebue/Royaards), Hans de Portier (Kruyer) in 't Vehoor (Anon.), Een Rooie Tydens de Kroningsfeesten (M.C.), Graag of Niet (Andersen), Bekroond (Bosch), Een Gevaarlijke Sujet (Franzen), De Assurantie (Brink).
459 Rederijkerskamer "Streven Naar Volmaking" te Kommerzijl, 1857 - C. 1962 ( Groninger Archieven )
Joris Baers (1888-1975): Algemeene Tooneelbibliotheek Een historische collectie theaterteksten in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience
Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 6-14
P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica
Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg: p.
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