Kaapstadse Afrikaanse Toneelvereniging
Not to be confused with an earlier Afrikaanse Toneelvereniging also active in Cape Town in the late 1920s.)
Breaking with the more general social aims of the Oranjeklub, the aims of the new society were quite ambitious, namely to have a pure amateur theatre society, aimed at promoting Afrikaans theatre by mounting productions, organizing discussions, translating plays, founding a library, obtaining theatre equipment and acquiring its own theatre venue, the encouragement of local playwrights in Afrikaans and the training of members in theatre crafts to their aims.
The society became largely inactive after 1956, and finally disbanded in 1962. (Rather intriguingly, though one source refers to a performance of Swanesang in 1972 or 1973 by a company referred to as the Kaapstadse Afrikaanse Toneelvereniging, with Mavis Lilenstein as the stage manager.)
Membership was limited strictly to amateurs, no one was to be paid. H.A. Fagan was the first chairman, A.M. Viljoen as secretary and I.W. van der Merwe as treasurer. Members included Marguerite I. Murray, Anna Neethling-Pohl, N.P. van Wyk Louw and Jacques Malan. Two plays by H.A Fagan, namely Rooibruin Blare and Ruwe Erts, also comprised the programme of its first performance, given in the Afrikaner Koffiehuis on 11 May 1934.
Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance
Throughout its active life until 1956, H.A. Fagan as well as other Afrikaans writers like Marie Linde, W.A. de Klerk, Uys Krige, Marguerite I. Murray, Herman Steytler, Helene de Klerk and Jacques Malan provided new and original texts for performance, to the extent that in total more than a half of the K.A.T.'s productions were first performances of original texts. These included Fagan's Rooibruin Blare (1934), Ruwe Erts (1934), Ousus (1935), Die Stille Haard (1946), as well as Die Seeman (D.F. Malherbe, 1934), Drie Lewens (Marie Linde, 1935), Die Bron (Marguerite I. Murray, 1935), Pels (Jacques Malan, 1935), Gebroke Drade (Jochem van Bruggen, 1936), Die Kwaksalwer (C. Louis Leipoldt, 1936), Beatriks Ursula (Marie Linde, 1936). In addition, they did Afrikaans translations of foreign plays, particularly in later years.
In addition to their Cape Town productions, K.A.T. frequently toured in the immediate vicinity of Cape Town with its productions, visiting surrounding towns and even playing to so-called "coloured" audiences in the Batswood Hall.
In later years, the society began to use the well-equipped Labia Theatre as a venue, and this enabled K.A.T. to raise the standard of their productions to a semi-professional level and thus allowed many of its members, such as Johan Fourie and Paul Malherbe, to later find professional employment as actors and directors for the SABC, NTO and CAPAB. Another impact of K.A.T. was on the radio, for a number of its plays were broadcast (including the first in 1934), and many of their players also did radio work, becoming the backbone of the Cape station.
Until 1940, virtually all performances were staged in the Afrikaner Koffiehuis, after which the Hofmeyr Hall was used. Both these venues were far from satisfactory, however, and one production per year was also mounted in the UCT Little Theatre. The unsuitability of these venues is demonstrated by the fact that by 1952, only thirty-seven full-length plays, as opposed almost sixty one-act plays had been produced. Eventually an arrangement was made with the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society on the building of the Labia Theatre which was opened in 1949, and shared by the two companies. However, the financial burden attached to running such a venue permanently was eventually a factor contributing to the K.A.T. becoming largely inactive after 1956, and finally disbanding in 1962.
Nel, F.J. 1972.
Du Toit, Petrus Jacobus 1988.
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