Bart Nel

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Bart Nel can refer to the original novel by Jan van Melle (1887-1953), as well as various dramatised versions of the tale.

The original novel

The play is based on the award-winning novel Bart Nel, de opstandeling by the Dutch and Afrikaans author Jan van Melle (1887-1953). Possibly van Melle's best known work and a classic in the canon of Afrikaans literature, it tells the tale of a farmer whose indomitable spirit allows him to survive the destruction and loss of his farm in wartime and being abandoned by his wife and family. It has been a standard Afrikaans setwork at school and at University levels since publication.

Interestingly the novel was originally written in Dutch, but with the dialogue in Afrikaans, and published so in 1936 as Bart Nel, de opstandeling ("Bart Nel the rebel"). In 1942 he reworked the book into Afrikaans with the title En ek is nog hy ("I am still he"), with later editions being published as Bart Nel.

Translations and adaptations

Bart Nel, the play (1972)

The text

Playwright and director Pieter Fourie (1940-2021) adapted the play for the stage in 1972 for performance by the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) Afrikaans drama company in Cape Town.

Performance history in South Africa

1972: Premièred in the Nico Malan Theatre in June 1972, a CAPAB production directed by Pieter Fourie, with Pieter Joubert (Bart), Babs Laker (Fransina), Mees Xteen (Ferdinand), Hanlé de Wit/Elmaré Langenhoven/Annette Engelbrecht (Annekie), Pieter Geldenhuys (Oom Kasper), Anna Cloete (Tant Johanna), André Rossouw (Japie), Marie van Heerden (Martha), Pieter Geldenhuys (Oom Giel), Roelf Laubscher (Oom Gawie), Willem de la Querra (Oom Koert), Paul Eilers (Pieter), Pierre Knoesen (Fransoois), Marie Pentz (Aletta), Trudi du Plessis (Maria), Price Coetzee (Malherbe), Willem de la Querra (Maritz) and Aletta Bezuidenhout (Bediende). Décor by Pieter de Swardt and costumes by Price Coetzee and Annette Engelbrecht.

Bart Nel, the TV film

Filmed for television in 1977 by the SABC, with a screenplay by Chris Barnard and directed by Fred Nel with Carel Trichardt, Sandra Prinsloo, Johan Malherbe, Bettie Kemp, Wilhelm Esterhuizen, Essie Esterhuizen, Jacques Bosch, Jan Bruyns, Will Roberts, Barry Trengrove, Hennie Oosthuizen, P.W. Marais, Isabelle Pienaar, Jakkie Groenewald, Petru Wessels, Izak Dormehl, Philip Markgraaff, David van der Merwe, Gabriel Bayman, Danie Smuts, Francois de Bruyn, Alex Heyns, Dominee J. van der Vloed, Bennie Bierman and Louis van Rensburg.

Music by Louis van Rensburg, cinematography by Hans Kühle (Sr.), editing by Johan Lategan, production management by Martin Linder.

The film was broadcast on 19 September 1977.


CAPAB theatre programme June 1972.

Copy of the original typed text of the play, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

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