Cape Flats Players

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The Cape Flats Players is an influential community theatre group in the Western Cape (1973-)

Founding and early history

Arose from DRAMSOC, a student group founded by poet, playwright and academic Professor Adam Small at the University of the Western Cape in 1971. DRAMSOC society gradually became less and less university based as people from the community began to get involved. Individuals such as Peter Braaf, Ivan Sylvester and Bertram Adams became central to the company and, renamed the Cape Flats Players in 1973, it moved away from the University to headquarters in Bellville and later Kraaifontein. The company consisted of amateurs who all had full-time jobs, though individual members gradually obtained professional acting jobs on stage, film and TV as well. These included Phlancia Buys, Phlancia Adams, Grace Botha, Sandra Braaf, Brenda Sylvester, Vivian Braaf, Jacques Klein, Bertram Adams, Basil Appollis, Ivan Sylvester, Paul Cookson, Micheal Botha, Tyrone Jenecke en Vincent Petersen.

Aims and function

Current status

Impact on SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

They began with the work of Small – which has remained stock work for them. First there was What about de lô (a programme of Small's poetry, 1973-85, and again later), then Kanna hy kô Hystoe (1973-1975), Die Krismis van Map Jacobs (late 1970s/early 1980s), The Orange Earth (1978) and Joanie Galant-hulle (1975-6). Gradually they began doing original work by other playwrights from the flats, such as Peter Braaf and Melvin Whitebooi, as well as workshopped plays focussed on life in the community, written in Afrikaans, English and "Kaaps", the regional version of Afrikaans made famous by Small's poetry. In the Apartheid days they did some 18 productions, performing in a variety of venues, from the Baxter Theatre and the Grahamstown Festival to the streets and found spaces in the townships. In the state of emergency in 1985-1987 they had to confront strong governmental opposition (including the banning of the text of Sensinina in 1985, confiscation of posters for a 1986 Grahamstown production and riots at the Oudtshoorn production). In 1987 they performed Small’s What about de lô? in Parliament, at the invitation of the National Party Youth Movement. After a period of dormancy, they became active again after 1990.

Besides Small's work their other productions include the hugely successful Dit sal die blêrrie dag wies (Melvin Whitebooi, 1983/4, 1988, 1996), Senzenina – What Have We Done? (Braaf and cast, 1986), Asseblief Miesies (Braaf, 1982/4), What about de Lô, Dié Kant, Daai Kant (Whitebooi, 1984) and Koffie en Kondensmelk (Whitebooi, 1986). Plays such as Aikôna (198*), Aluta Continua (1985), Mix Masala (1990), Freedom Now! (Inkululeko Ngoku) (Baxter Theatre and Grahamstown Festival, 1989), Love, Lust or Guilt (1989) and Die Goodbye People (1993) were workshopped by the group. Kanna, hy kô Hystoe (Cape Flats-Spelers, Aardklop, 1999), The group also does educational work and trains actors. In 199* the SABC broadcast a TV documentary on the group and its activities, produced by Anthony “Speedo” Wilson for Channel 3.

Onder die dramas wat deur die groep opgevoer is, is What about de Lô - wat konsentreer op sommige landswette en die domheid daarvan (meer as 50 000 mense het dit reeds gesien). Dit sal die blêrrie dag Wies - waarin die CFP die onmenslikheid van die Groepsgebiedewet en gedwonge verskuiwings uitwys. Meer as 550 000 het die opvoering gesien. Senzenina - ``What have we done - die vraag word aan die owerheid gestel wat die verdruktes gedoen het om te ly soos wat hulle nou doen. Meer as 60 000 mense het die opvoering bygewoon. Aluta Continua - ``The struggle continues. Met die noodtoestand, aanhoudings, inperking van persone en beperkings op progressiewe organisasies, sluiting van skole, ongerymdhede van diegene aan bewind, word die vraag gevra: Is dit hervorming? Deur middel van dié drama word die gemeenskap gevra om voort te gaan met die stryd. Nagenoeg 75 000 mense het die opvoering gesien.


Smith, 1990;

R. Cohen;

January 1997.)

Kruger, 1999.

SABC TV documentary (produced by Anthony "Speedo" Wilson for Channel 3).

Baxter Theatre pamphlet, April-May 1989.

"Flats Players gaan Baxter toe" in Die Burger 1989/04/21/19[1]

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