Jump to navigation Jump to search

Christine is an Afrikaans play by Bartho Smit (1924–1986).

The original text

A highly controversial play about an Afrikaner artist haunted by his betrayal of his Jewish lover to the Nazi's while living in Germany. The published play has two contrasting endings.

Originally commissioned by CAPAB for the opening of the Nico Malan Theatre Complex in Cape Town in 1971. Set to be performed on 16 June, 1971, it was banned by the Administrator of the Cape Province (in his capacity as chairman of the CAPAB Board) at the last minute, and shelved for a later possible workshop production, which never happened. It was eventually staged by PACT in 1973.

First published by Tafelberg Publishers in 1971, the volume dedicated to "Kita" (his wife, Kita Redelinghuys). The author was awarded the Hertzog Prize for Drama in 1978 in recognition of his work as dramatist, with special mention being made of his plays Christine, Moeder Hanna, Putsonderwater and Die Verminktes.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Flemish by Tine Balder and in 1973 into German by Edgar Sievers, a Ufologist and leader of a German theatre company in Pretoria.

There have been two English translations: The one version was by Pieter Venter (who had translated Die Verminktes as The Maimed in 196*), and the second version by Michael Rice, published in Hauptfleisch and Steadman: South African Theatre: Four Plays and an Introduction by HAUM Educational in 1984.

An adaptation of the Michael Rice English version, which localized the action in Apartheid South Africa rather than in Nazi Germany, was done by Karolien Dreyer in 2000 (see below), the cast of characters expanded to ten, with the original Nazi supporter ("The Man") replaced by the Afrikaner "Eugene Coetzee".

Performance history in South Africa

1971: Scheduled to open on 16 April, 1971, directed by Bartho Smit himself, with Pieter Geldenhuys, Kita Redelinghuys, Trudi du Plessis and Pieter Joubert. However, the play was withdrawn at the last minute by the then Administrator of the Cape Province (in his capacity as chairman of the CAPAB Board). It was replaced by a performance of the ballet Sylvia, and so the first play in Afrikaans to be presented in the theatre was Koning Lear (a translation of Shakespeare's King Lear.)

1973: Finally produced by PACT in 1973, directed by Francois Swart with Tine Balder (Christine), Sandra Prinsloo (Die Meisie), Don Lamprecht (Die Man) and Louis van Niekerk (Paul Harmse). The Pretoria run was also threatened with banning unless certain changes were made, including the excising of a number of profane words (including "God" and "hoer" ("whore"), the image of the crucified Jesus that simbolises the cloister had to be left out, the young Christine was not to appear in her sheer underwear and Paul had to wear pyjamas over his underpants. (Some of the excised words were replaced once the play opened in the less conservative context of Johannesburg.)

1987: Christine opened for CAPAB at the Arena Theatre of the Nico Malan Theatre Complex in an experimental production by Esther van Ryswyk on 26 May, a month after the author's death. The director was assisted by Fiona Coyne, the set designed by David van Rijswijk, lighting by Pieter de Swardt. Babs Laker played Christine, Percy Sieff Paul Harmse, Marion Holm was Die Meisie and Willie Fritz Die Man.

1989: Staged by PACT, directed by Lucille Gillwald, featuring Cobus Rossouw (Paul Harmse), Sandra Prinsloo (Christine), Ronel Kriel (Die Meisie), and Ben Kruger (Die Man). Design by Nadya Cohen.

1990: Staged by PACOFS, directed by Gerben Kamper, featuring Ernst Eloff (Paul Harmse), Petru Wessels (Christine), Dorette Nel (Die Meisie), and Hennie Baird (Die Man). Decor by Johan Badenhorst.

1993: A production by students of the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department was presented at the H.B. Thom Theatre in November, directed by Waldemar Schultz, starring Chris Vorster as Paul Harmse, Ira Blanckenberg and Melina Dreyer alternating as "Christine", Launa Kotze and Judy-Ann Deacon alternating as "Meisie", Waldemar Schultz as "Man".

2000: A localized adaptation of the Michael Rice English version, directed by MA student Karolien Dreyer, was presented by the University of the Witwatersrand School of Dramatic Art at the Wits Downstairs Theatre, opening on 3 May. The cast and characters consisted of the following BA Dramatic Art students: Luke Carstens ("Paul Harmse"), Sasha McDonald ("Christine"), Daniela Olivia Isaacs ("Young Christine"), Josie Potter ("Mistress"), Andrew Turner ("Eugene Coetzee"), Imran Garda ("Doctor"), Dylan Kerr Balkind ("Prosecutor"), Petronel Baard ("Judge"), Mpho Osei-Tutu ("Police Sergeant") and Janine Hornsby ("Caretaker"). Designs by Sheona Mitchley and Rayzelle Sham; Lighting design by Gerry Coughlan.


Erika Terblanche. 2018. "Bartho Smit (1924–1987)" LitNet-Skrywersalbum[1]

PACT theatre programme, 1973.

Review by Raeford Daniel (PACT 1973 production), Rand Daily Mail, 18 May 1973, p 14.

CAPAB 25 years. Unpublished research. p 117 and 448.

Beeld, 29 April, 1978.

Theatre pamphlet 1987.

Theatre pamphlet, 1993.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page