Dear Mrs Steyn

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One-woman play inspired by, and based upon the letters and journals of Emily Hobhouse to Mrs Rachel Steyn. Text by Deon Opperman, Garth Holmes and Wilna Snyman (1999).

Subject and text

During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) Emily Hobhouse wrote a series of letters to her close friend and soul mate Mrs Rachel Isabella Steyn, wife of the State President of the Orange Free State, M.T. Steyn. Her focus was on the suffering of the Afrikaner women and children incarcerated in the British concentration camps during the war.

The play was inspired by and based upon these letters.

Performance history in South Africa

1990: Premièred at the 1990 Grahamstown Festival of the Arts, presented by the Baxter Theatre with Wilna Snyman, directed by Deon Opperman. It was performed at The Loft Theatre in Durban, August 1990. First performance at the Baxter Theatre 2 May 1991.

1999: Staged in Die Teaterhuisie in May 1999 (centenary year of the start of the South African War (or also called the Second Boer War, 1899-1902), Directed by Deon Opperman with Wilna Snyman. The same production played in The Baxter Theatre Concert Hall in May 1999, the Windybrow in October 1999 and at the KKNK of 1999. This production had a long run over many years, with Wilna Snyman still performing it at Die Boer in Cape Town on 16th February 2011. It was also performed at a number of embassies around the world.

2014: In 2014 ItsTaboo Productions produced a new production of the play at Seabrooke's Theatre, DHS, St Thomas Road, Musgrave, Durban. Directed by Thomie Holtzhausen, with Alison Cassels as Emily Hobhouse.

Translations and adaptations


Baxter Theatre programme, 1991.

KKNK Festival programme, 1999.

[Van Heerden (2008)][1]. p. 130.

Review written by Sjoerd Meijer, Daily News, 10 August 1990.

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