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Drifte ("passions") is a bilingual (English and Afrikaans) performance text, made up of extracts from various plays by Reza de Wet (1952-2012), compiled by Shirley Johnston and Cast.

The original text

To paraphrase Shirley Johnston's description of the process and the text (Johnston, 2018): the production was created in a collaborative process, with the students contributing as much to the process as the director did, in order to afford each of the students the opportunity to get under the skin of a number of her idiosyncratic characters instead of playing a single role. A clear thematic line emerged in the selections of scenes, illustrating what Johnston calls "De Wet’s recurring leitmotif of sexual repression, the yearning of her principal characters to escape the strictures of the narrow Calvinistic society of the white Afrikaner in the first half of the twentieth century".

Excerpts were taken from Heathcliff and the Dancing Bear, Op Dees Aarde, Nag, Generaal, Mis, Mirakel and A Worm in the Bud.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1996: Performed by seven final year University of Stellenbosch drama students in April in the Kellerteater, directed by lecturer Shirley Johnston, with a cast including Paul du Toit, Angerie van Wyk, Martelize Kolver, Leanna Dreyer, Nicole Holm , Amelda Brand and Nico Dreyer. Set design and lighting by Kobus Rossouw.

1996: In a rare exchange, the production was also performed for and debated by the UCT drama staff and students in the Drama Department of the University of Cape Town.


Shirley Johnston. 2018. "Drifte - Discovering the Secrets of Reza de Wet’s Heart". Draft article, courtesy of the author.

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