Die Van Aardes van Grootoor

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Die Van Aardes van Grootoor ("The Van Aardes [lit: those of the earth] of Great Ear") is a play by Pieter-Dirk Uys.

The original text

An iconic Afrikaans play, satirising Nationalist politics, this is a full-length version of a one-act sketch created and performed by Uys as part of the anti-censorship revue Strike Up the Banned at the Space Theatre in Cape Town. It is based on the format of popular Afrikaans radio soap operas of the late 1950s and early 1960s, such as Liefdeslied ("love song") and Die Du Plooys van Soetmelksvlei (from which the title of Uys's play derives).

The text was published by Taurus, 1979

Translations and adaptations

The text was re-written by Pieter-Dirk Uys before the production that opened at the Market Theatre on 20 September 1978.

Performance history in South Africa

1975: The full-length version of a one-act sketch created and performed by Uys as part of the anti-censorship revue Strike Up the Banned at the Space Theatre in Cape Town. The whole thing took place in a familiar Springbok Radio studio and he and Trix Pienaar enacted the recording of a serial called “Die Van Aardes van Grootoor” and involved the whole drama, snot en trane as presented by Kux toiletseep (a word play on Lux toilet soap) and dramatically introduced by the most famous theme music, still associated with the even more famous (and real) radio serial, Die Du Plooys van Soetmelksvlei.

1977: Dawie Malan, Chris Galloway and Bill Curry formed the nucleus of an experimental theatre group called Fringe and performed it as a full play to a small audience at the Baxter Theatre, directed by Malan, starring Antoinette Kellermann, Mary Dreyer, Chris Galloway, Bill Curry, Lida Botha and Marthinus Basson.

1978: Staged in The Laager at the Market Theatre for 18 months (the theatre's opening production), after which it moved to the main Market Theatre in July 1979. Directed by Dawie Malan, with Antoinette Kellermann (Dolla van Aarde), Rina Nienaber (Mimi Degenaar & Brenda Botha), Magda Beukes (Ouma Degenaar & Elana van Aarde), Pieter-Dirk Uys (John Firestone Jnr. & Tertius van Aarde), Nomsa Nene (Ou Aia & Klein Siena & Madame Daphne Quazilezi) and Jacques Malan (Fanie van Aarde & Evert van Graan). Other actors who also took part during the run at The Market include Chris Galloway, Bill Curry, Marthinus Basson, Eon de Vos, Elize Cawood, Johan Botha, Lida Botha and Allan Dyssel.

1984: Directed by James Blanckenberg for the University of Cape Town Drama Department at the UCT Arena, Hiddingh Campus in August. Antoinette Butler assisted as director and the cast members were Shirley Ellis, Bernadine Strutt, Susan Dall, Jamie Bartlett, Paul Savage, Gideon de Wet, Isadora Verwey and Robert Finlayson.

1987: Staged by PACT, directed by Louis van Niekerk, with Christine Basson (Dolla), Lida Meiring (Ouma Diegenaar/Elana), Nomhle Nkonyeni (Aia/Siena/ Madame Quazilezi), Ronel Kriel (Mimi/Brenda), Frans Kalp (John Firestone/Tertius) and Gert van Niekerk (Fanie/Evert). Design by James MacNamara.

1992: Restaged by Pieter Toerien at the Theatre on the Bay and the Leonard Rayne Theatre in a new, updated, version featuring Casper de Vries, Trix Pienaar, Lizz Meiring, Grethe Brazelle, Motshabi Tyelele, Andrew Wilson directed by Pieter-Dirk Uys.

2004: Taken to various festivals in a production directed by Anthony Wilson, with a Cape Flats cast including Denise Newman, Lee-Ann van Rooi, André Samuels, Irvine van der Merwe, Nomkhita Bavuma and Lindie Stander.

2009: Staged at Evita se Perron in Darling as part of the ongoing Perron Drama Project, again directed by Uys, with Jo-Anne Delport, Sari Vlotman, Ella du Plessis, Frits van Ryneveld, Omnia Grobler and Owen Britz.

2012: A new version directed by Albert Maritz featuring Marion Holm, Esther von Waltsleben, De Klerk Oelofse, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Noxolo Bodlani and Pierre van Heerden.


Market Theatre programme, 1978.

PACT theatre programme, 1987.

Die Van Aardes van Grootoor programme notes, 1992.

KKNK programme, 29 March-6 April 2013.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Cape Times, 23 November 2009.

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