M.P.O. Burgers

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M.P.O. Burgers (1909-1962) was a journalist, stage, radio and film actor, playwright and translator.

Also known as M.P. Olivier Burgers, M.P. Burgers or, most often, as Olivier Burgers, he was the younger brother of the beloved comedian of stage, radio and film, Frederik Burgers.

Not to be confused with the actor, journalist and radio announcer A.M. (Apie) Burger


Born Marius Philip Olivier Burgers in Johannesburg, the son of Philip Rudolph Burgers and Johanna Catharina Wilhelmina Adendorff on 22 April 1909. His father was an occasional actor.

He completed his high school education at the Hoër Seunskool Helpmekaar, where the writer Kleinjan Van Bruggen was his Afrikaans teacher. He obtained a distinction in Afrikaans, and went on to study at the University of the Witwatersrand, with Afrikaans, English and Psychology as majors, obtaining a B.A.-degree before completing a teachers' diploma at the Johannesburg Opleidingskollege vir Onderwysers, as well as a diploma in Elocution ("Voordragkuns" in Afrikaans).

He went on to teach for seven years, while also involving himself in the cultural life of Johannesburg, inter alia as an active member of the Afrikaanse Skrywerskring (Afrikaans Writers' Circle").

He was at the same time also continuing with his studies on a part-time basis, completing a Master's degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1937 with a study on C.J. Langenhoven (later published as Die mens Langenhoven) and a doctorate from the University of Leiden, with a thesis on C.L. Leipoldt – ’n Studie in stof-keuse, -verwerking en -ontwikkeling (also published).

His radio career began in 1930 when he was appointed as a part-time, bilingual (Afrikaans and English) announcer for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC, and took off when he was subsequently chosen to be one of the first full-time broadcasters of the SABC's Afrikaans radio service. He is later promoted to programme organizer and studio manager of Afrikaans programmes in Johannesburg, before moving to Cape Town in 1949 to become the regional manager of the SABC for the Western Cape, a position he would fill till his unexpected death of a heart attack on 30 April 1962.

He was married to Eugenie Burgers and the couple had two children.

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

Besides his administrative and artistic work for the SABC, he was frequently used as a judge for eisteddfodau and drama competitions.

As writer

He adapted Eugène N. Marais's short story Die wegraak van Sannie as a drama called Sannie. Published by J.L. van Schaik, Pretoria in 1930.

He translated Ibsen's Ghosts into Afrikaans as Spoke (first produced by ** with André Huguenet and Anna Neethling-Pohl in 194*), as well as the Hungarian play Játék a kastélyban ("the play in the castle") by Ferenc Molnár entitled Gekonkel in die Nag.

As actor

One of the performers in the classic Afrikaans Hamlet of 1947.

As journalist

He reviewed and wrote on theatre for a number of publications, including Die Brandwag and Trans-Afrika.




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