D.C. Boonzaier

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D.C. Boonzaier (1865-1950) was a highly regarded South African political cartoonist, amateur theatre practitioner, critic and theatre diarist.


Born Daniël Cornelis Boonzaier at Patatsrivier in the Cape Province in 1865. He came to Cape Town in 1882 as a clerk in the Master’s Office, where he started drawing portraits from photographs of world celebrities. In 1903 he became the first cartoonist appointed to the permanent staff of the South African newspaper, South Africa News. At the inception of the Afrikaans newspaper, Die Burger, in 1915 he became its cartoonist until the 1940s, particularly famous for his caricatures and political cartoons.

His fifth son was the famed painter Gregoire Boonzaier (1909-2005)[1], who also did some set designs and backdrops for theatre productions and covers and illustrations for published versions of Afrikaans plays.

D.C. Boonzaier died in Cape Town in 1950.

In 1973, his work was included in the exhibition South African Cartoonists and Comic Strip Artists at the Pretoria Art Museum.

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

Boonzaier always had a keen interest in the arts, including theatre and theatre personalities, and corresponded regularly with artists and writers such as Leo Tolstoy, Sarah Bernhardt, George Bernard Shaw, Henry Irving, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Jill Fletcher (1994) described Boonzaier as a "stage manager and capable actor among the gentlemen amateurs" and an "acute critic". A friend of many local theatre personalities, including Luscombe Searelle and particularly Stephen Black, he did numerous theatre-related cartoons and most significantly, kept an enormously useful journal of his avid theatre going. The latter material was first published as "My Playgoing Days" in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. These writings form the core of the second half of F.C.L. Bosman's second volume on theatre in South Africa (1980), primarily dealing with theatre in Cape Town in the period between 1855 and 1912.




Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik.

D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 50-52, 302, 374, 442.

De Beer, Mona 1995. Revised ed. Who Did What in South Africa. Johannesburg: Ad Donker.

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg.

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