Don Juan onder die Boere

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Don Juan onder die Boere ("Don Juan among the Farmers/Boers") is a political satire by Bartho Smit (1924–1986).

The original text

Contrary to what might be expected from the title, the play was not based on the Molière's well-known play (see Don Juan), but was actually inspired by a German newspaper article Smit had read in a German newspaper in 1954. Entitled "Der gekidnappte Don Juan" ("The kidnapped Don Juan") it tells of a playboy in a small Neapolitan town, who had been kidnapped by four women and taken to an "engagement party" where he was forced to become engaged to one of them.

Using the incident as the frame for his plot, Smit wrote an original comic satire, set in the time of the Transvaal Republic[1], and employing a large cast of parents, daughter, young farmers, etc. to dramatize the engagement party, in order to comment on the social mores of the (rural) Afrikaner.

Begun in 1954, but only finished in 1958. Originally scheduled for performance by National Theatre Organisation (NTO) as the inaugural piece for the newly built Bloemfontein Civic Theatre in Bloemfontein during 1959, but withdrawn as being "inappropriate". The play was finally performed by members of the Pro Arte student society at the University of Pretoria in 1960.

The text published by H&R (Human & Rousseau) in 1960.

Translations and adaptations

Charles J. Fourie in turn based his Don Gxubane Onner die Boere on this play.

Performance history in South Africa

1959: Scheduled for performance by the National Theatre Organization (NTO) as the inaugural piece for the newly built Bloemfontein Civic Theatre during 1959, but withdrawn as being "inappropriate" because of the infamous "castration scene". It was replaced by Hellersee, a play by W.A. de Klerk

1960: Performed by the student society Pro Arte at the University of Pretoria, directed by Bartho Smit himself, with a cast that included the young Marga van Rooy, Louw Odendaal and Chris Barnard (who, besides acting, was also the assistant director, tour-leader and responsible for publicity, transport and sound effects). The play initially went on tour in the rural areas, including the towns of Rustenburg, Potchefstroom and Nelspruit. Then it was again almost banned by the management of the Aula theatre on the University of Pretoria campus, but after hurried negotiations and compromises on both sides, was performed for three nights. It was nevertheless greatly criticised for the "castration scene" and especially the shamelessly satirical portrayal of the Boer heroes of the past.

1970: Performed in the H.B. Thom Theatre by students of the Stellenbosch University Drama Department under direction of Theuns Meyer starring Johann van Heerden, Sharon Montgomery, Theuns Meyer, Jan Engelen, Laurika Rauch, Marietha Snyman, and others.

1985: Produced by PACOFS in the Sand du Plessis Theatre, Bloemfontein. Directed by Francois Swart, with Wilna Snyman, Pierre van Pletzen, Arnold Vosloo, Johan Malherbe, Jacques Loots, Marchelle Verwey, Hélène Truter. Sets by Johan Badenhorst, costumes by James Parker.

1986: Presented by TRUK Toneel, directed by Francois Swart at the State Theatre, Pretoria, with Ben Kruger, Wilna Snyman, Lida Meiring, Annette Engelbrecht, Amor Tredoux, Christine Basson, Kim de Beer, Hélène Truter, Jacques Loots, Pieter Brand, Johan Malherbe, Tjaart Potgieter, Francois Viljoen, Jakes Jacobs, Reg Sutton, Monique Aggenbach and Debbie Barnard. Set design by Chris van den Berg, lighting design by Paul Ramboukian, costume design by James Parker.


Barnard, Chris (compiler). 1984. Bartho. By geleentheid van sy sestigste verjaardag. Johannesburg: Perskor.

Malan, Charles. 1984. "Inleiding tot Bartho Smit se Werk" In: Sestigers in Woord en Beeld: Bartho Smit. Johannesburg: Perskor: pp.86-111.

Erika Terblanche. 2018. "Bartho Smit (1924–1987)" LitNet-Skrywersalbum[2]

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988

TRUK Theatre programme, 1986.

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