Julian Smith

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Julian Smith (19**-) is a star rugby player, academic and theatre historian.


Born in Robertson in the Cape winelands, he grew up in the picturesque village of McGregor, about 18km away. His parents, Julie and Milly, hail from families with strong sporting backgrounds, so his early interests were sport, and rugby in particular, in which he excelled and would go on to national honours.

(For details of his rugby career, see the article "Black Legend: Julian Smith", SA Rugby Magazine November 28, 2018[1])

Smith began his formal schooling at the Methodist Primary School in McGregor where his father was the principal, then going to Langeberg Intermediary School and finished his schooling at to Esselenpark Secondary School in Worcester.

He then enrolled for a BA degree at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 1972, and trained as a language teacher. In 1976 and 1977 he taught at Bishop Lavis Secondary School, while completing a BA honours degree. He then returned to Robertson to teach at his alma mater, Langeberg Secondary School.

In 1982 he was appointed a lecturer in the Afrikaans-Nederlands department at UWC and by 1987 had completed a doctorate with a thesis on . In 1991 he was appointed registrar of the UWC. In 2000, he accepted the position of Professor in the Stellenbosch Drama Department and Vice-rector at the University of Stellenbosch. In this time he played a leading transformative role during a very difficult period at tertiary institutions in South Africa.

He retired from the university in 2015.

He is married to Virginia and the couple have two daughters, Janine, a medical doctor, and Cherice, who studied Drama at the University of Stellenbosch (200-2004) and then went on to become a corporate communications professional.

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

Smith has always been closely involved with the cultural struggle in the country, as well as having a close personal relationship to Adam Small and the performing arts in the Cape Flats. For example he was intimately involved with the movement of so-called "coloured" writers to identify with black consciousness movement and sought to assess the contribution of black writers to Afrikaans literature. He was also one of the organisers of a seminal conference on Black Writers in Afrikaans, held at the University of the Western Cape in the 1980s. Similarly, his doctoral thesis focuses on and analyzes the role of black writers and the many theatre companies active in the theatre of the area known as the Cape Flats. A shorter version of the study was published in 1990 entitled Toneel en Poltiek ("Theatre and Politics") and remains one of the few really significant documents in this particular field.

His other relevant publications include:

1981. Gesag en Onderdanigheid in die Dramas van Bartho Smit. Unpublished master’s thesis. Bellville: University of the Western Cape.

1987. Kontemporêre swart Afrikaanse gemeenskapstoneelaktiwiteit in die Kaapse Skiereiland: 'n ideologies-kritiese besinning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Bellville: University of the Western Cape.

1989. Kontemporêre swart Afrikaanse gemeenskapstoneel: dienswillig die uwe... Stilet, 1(1): 51-59.


"Black Legend: Julian Smith", SA Rugby Magazine June 2018 (digital version: November 28, 2018)[2]

Stellenbosch University Library catalogue.

Smith, Julian.

Van Zyl, Wium 2006.

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

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