Charles Fryer

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Charles Fryer (1946-2014). Publisher, editor, author, playwright and critic.


Born on 5 March 1946 in Calvinia in what is today known as the Hantamhuis. He was one of five children. He later married Lorreine, a free lance editor and translator and the had two daughters Charleinne and Andrea, and a son, William. He retired from Tafelberg Publishers in 2002 and died in Cape Town on 13 November 2014.


Having completed school, he went to the University of Stellenbosch, where he completed a BA degree in Afrikaans and Drama, being a member of D.J. Opperman's famous "letterkundige laboratorium" (a literary laboratory for aspiring authors). His drama lecturers included Fred Engelen and Rina Botha.


Having finished his studies, he taught high school at the Hoërskool DF Malan in Bellville and in 1975 joined the publishing firm Tafelberg Uitgewers, initially as a book editor and later as Publisher: Literary Fiction for the publishing house. He retired in in 2002.

While he was primarily employed in the book publishing trade, he was also an active critic and a creative writer who, in the course of his career, wrote and published one book of poems (Rooiwielwa, 1978), short stories and unpublished plays, and collated a number of collections, including a book of one-act plays called Kollig: vyf eenbedrywe ("Spotlight: five one-act plays"), and three collections of short stories entitled Kinders van die Aarde ("Children of the earth:", 1998), Van spoke gepraat ("Speaking of ghosts") (2006) and Kinders van Afrika ("Children of Africa", 2007).

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He had a great love of theatre and performance, a passion engendered during his student days when he performed in dramatic readings of stories and poems, acted in student plays and began writing playtexts in the drama department.

As performer

Student roles included Macbeth (as Banquo) and Yerma.

As playwright

While none of his plays have been published, some of his student work gained legendary status in Stellenbosch. The most notable perhaps Die Vampier ("The Vampire"), performed by the students of his years and thereafter.

His most notable playtext is perhaps the Passion Play Só Moes die Liefde Ly ("Thus Love had to suffer"), the Passion Play he created in 1988 for Martina Rauch and the parish of the NG Kerk Parow-Panorama, near Cape Town, to be performed by the gevangelical group Woord in Beeld during Easter under the stars in Tygerberg. In 1989, he expanded the short text to full-length and from 1991 onwards it was performed every second year in the Van Zyl Hall in the Kango Caves, the text constantly evolving and the cast increasing, with audiences drawn from across the globe.

In October 1990 he wrote and directed Lig in die Swart Klooster ("Light in the Black Monastery"), for Woord in Beeld of the the NG Kerk parish of Panorama.

As editor

Besides editing publications by various authors and playwrights over the course of his long career at Tafelberg Publishers, he also edited a book of one-act plays called Kollig: vyf eenbedrywe ("Spotlight: five one-act plays") , published in Cape Town by Tafelberg Uitgewers in 1982, reprinted 1987.

As critic

Besides his journalism and reviews of films and plays, he was also a member of the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards panel for many years.

Awards, etc

In 1997 he received the Piet Cillié medal for creative work.

In 1999 he received the CNW Prize for Christian journalism

In 2008 the Woordfees in Stellenbosch presented Rooiwielwa, a special program compiled by Alwena van der Vyver, dedicated to Charles Fryer, consisting of readings of selected compilation from his poems, prose and unpublished works.

In the same year he received an Afrikoon award from the ATKV in recognition of his life-long contribution to Afrikaans literature.


Erika Terblanche: Charles Fryer (1946-2014), LitNet Skrywersalbum[1]

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