Môrester Amateur Toneelgroep

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Wolseley (MAT = “Môrester Amateur Theatre group”) A Black rural amateur community theatre group which began informally in the Dutch Reformed Missionary Church (currently the United Reformed Church of VGK) during Sunday school, even before amateur theatre was being practiced by black communities in the small little town of Wolseley. Initially they presented Christmas naivety plays with staff and pupils at the end of the year, using everyday clothing as costumes. In 19** Johanna Africa put on the first amateur performance of Haar grootste offer (“Her greatest by Trienie Meij-Louw. This play’s success led to a performance of Twee is beter as een (“Two are better than one”) by J.T. Martens by the CJV (Christelike Jeug Vereniging = “Christian Youth Association”), which gave the group its motto. After this performance the informal group named themselves Die Morester Amateur Toneelgroep with the motto “Twee is beter as een” (Two is better than one). Henry-Sam Africa, the first chairman of MAT, was a student at the University of the Western Cape and established that their motto translates to “Dua Maior Una Est” in Latin. The group’s first official production was in 1969, when they did My seun, My seun by Sara van Niekerk, and toured it to George, Rosemoor, Blanco, Zuurbraak, Heidelberg, Swellendam, Ashton and Pacaltsdorp amongst other places, travelling on the back of a ‘bakkie’ (pick-up truck). MAT only performed religious-didactic plays embedded in the religious life of their community, and the main objective was to reinforce a community spirit within the communities who were subject to relocation due to the groups amendment act. All proceeds went towards traveling costs and what was left was donated to the church and to support organisations such as the Steinthal Children’s Home. Shows were done minimistically (contemporary clothing, simple staging and with little technological help), performed in dimly lit halls. Advertising was minimal for the simple reason that the communities whom they performed for were small, and word of mouth was efficient enough. The texts used were ordered from bookshops and transcribed by hand by Rina Crotz and Sarah Crotz. Disbanded in 1971.


January, 1997

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