Jannie Gildenhuys

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Jannie Gildenhuys. (1929-1999) Bilingual radio, stage and film actor and stage director.


Born in Heidelberg, Cape Province. Renowned for his incredibly resonant voice and vocal abilities, and his creative direction.

He died in August 1999.



Trained at the University of Stellenbosch and UCT and in London.


He became a lecturer at a teacher's training college, and, on a study tour of Europe, came into contact with modern trends in children's theatre and improvisational theatre, notably the work of Joan Littlewood. On his return in 1959, he proposed and later headed National Theatre Organisation's NTO Youth Theatre group, with former teachers Cobus Rossouw and Leonora Nel. They began touring in the Cape in August 1959, with works they devised and put on as a group, continuing in the Transvaal in 1960. By 1961 two groups had been formed for the two provinces. In 1963 this bulk of these groups became part of the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) drama company. Gildenhuys now performed and directed for the Performing Arts Councils. He became the head of the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS) experimental theatre group in the Old Presidency Theatre, undertaking significant work as director/actor, including the first professional production of Kanna, hy kô Hystoe (Adam Small), and immensely creative productions of Cry, The Beloved Country (Alan Paton), Becket (Anouilh), ** and Medea (1973).

He worked for CAPAB until 1967 after which he rejoined PACT.

In the 1980s he toured the country with a number of popular one-man shows, based on books of the Bible, Die Boodskap. This was followed up in the early 1990s with a sequel, Die boodskap 2

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

He worked on more or less two hundred productions as director or actor ranging from Hups in die Hydro to Hugo Claus's adaptation of Seneca's Oedipus. Antigone

Only a few of the many productions include The Would-be Gentleman (1951), Die Gebreekte Kruik (1963), Lokval!, Bitter Einde, Die Loodswaaiers, 'n Man met Vakansie, Maria Stuart, Die Nag van Legio, Rashomon, Tartuffe and Sganarelle.

He directed and acted in Dokter teen Wil en Dank,

He directed Jack and the Turtle Doves, Gilgamesh, Our Town/Ons Dorp (1976), Die Renosters, Oupa Kanniedood, Die Jakkalsstreke van Scapino, also Dieselfde Pad.

Awards, etc

In 1992 won a Fleur du Cap Best Director Award with Die Rebellie van Lafras Verwey (Chris Barnard).

In 1998 he received the Fleur du Cap Lifetime Award for his contribution to the industry.


Lokval! programme notes, 1964.

Obituary Beeld 24 August 1999.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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