Bantu Dramatic Society

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bantu Dramatic Society

A society devoted to the promotion of black theatrical development.

Founding and aims

Founded in 1932/33* by H.I.E. Dhlomo, R.R.R. Dhlomo and ***. The honorary patron was J.D. Rheihallt Jones, the director of the Institute of Race Relations, the chairman ** and the Vice-chairman Herbert Dhlomo. It had as aim “to perform European drama from time to time.. to encourage Bantu playwrights and to develop African dramatic and operatic art.” However, the society tended to work very much within a specific, genteel concept of European modernity.

H.I.E. Dhlomo (Herbert Dhlomo) also wrote a considerable body of dramatic theory & criticism & numerous plays which allegorised black African history for his contemporaries.


The first production was Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer which opened at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre on 28 April, 1933, and played two consecutive weekends, each performance followed by a dance to the music of the Merry Blackbirds. The second production was a play written by Mary Waters, a missionary, entitled uNongqause, based on the story of the Xhosa cattle-killing. The play was heavily criticised and led to Dhlomo writing his own version of the story. In 1934 it did The Cheerful Knave and in 1935 Lady Windermere’s Fan. **********

Bantu Dramatic and Operatic Society

Became the Bantu Dramatic and Operatic Society in 1939*?? They performed H.I.E. Dhlomo’s Moshoesoe as part of the 1939 Moshoeshoe Day celebrations.

(See Kruger, 199*; Gosher, 1988) [TH, JH]

Return to South African Theatre Venues, Companies, Societies, etc

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page