P.P.B. Breytenbach

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Petrus Philippus Benjamin(widely known as “P.P.B. Breytenbach” and more intimately as “Breytie”) (24/01/1904-1984). Educator, social worker, amateur actor, charismatic activist for theatre, mentor for numerous theatre personalities and an enormously influential theatre administrator. Born in Wepener in the Orange Free State, he went to school in Bethlehem, then moved to Bloemfontein where he studied privately, becoming a teacher of commercial subjects. He became interested in theatre through Danie Smal and amateur productions he saw in Bloemfontein. Moving to Krugersdorp in 1926, he starts his own schoool, then in 1927 teacher at and 1929 principal of the Krugersdorp Technical College, a post he holds till his resignation in 1951. His belief in theatre as a cultural asset and an instrument for education was engendered in 1926 and he became in succession the first Afrikaans member of and an actor, director, technician and stage manager for the Krugersdorp Dramaric and Operatic Club (later the Krugersdorp Mu Municipal Dramatic and Operatic Society). Among the plays he did as actor were A Mystery (1929), Borrowed Plumes (1929), Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury (1929), Shaw's The Apple Cart (1930), Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan (1930), *. Directed (and often acted in) a number of Afrikaans works for them, including Koppigheid (Viljoen, 1930), Elkeen sy eie (Schumann, 1931), Die Stoplap (Spiethoff, 1932), In die Dae van Jan van Riebeeck (Metelerkamp, 1932), * Elected as Chairman from 1933-1952. Breytenbach was a firm believer in Hertzog’s vision of a unification of Afrikaans- and English-speakers and believed the theatre could be a powerful tool towards this end. He therefore actively promoted the co-existence of the two languages during his period at the helm of the Krugersdorp Municipal Dramatic and Operatic Society (KMDOS). Later founder and first President of the Federation of Amateur Theatrical Societies of Southern Africa (FATSSA – 1938-1952), founder and first President of the board of governors of the National Theatre Organisation (NTO –1947-1952), full-time Director of NTO (1952-1962), on the dissillusion of NTO, first Director of the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT – 1962-1967), co-founder and first vice -President of the South African Institute for Theatre Technology (SAITT) (1969-), curator of the National Documentation Centre for the Performing Arts at the Human Sciences Research Council (1971-1972 – donating his vast personal records to the institution), Chairman of the board of directors of the Theatre Residential Clubs (1981-1984) and a member of the board of directors of inter alia: the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO – 1967-1984), the Market Theatre Trust (197*-1984), the National Afrikaans Literary Museum and Research Centre (NALN – 197*-1984). Also held numerous posts in education and social work, and anactive member of the Rotary movement. Among the many honours bestowed on him for his work in theatre are the Queen’s Coronation Medal (1953), the Pretoria Centenary Medal (1955), the first Golden Mask award from SAMRO (1981) and an honorary doctorate from the University of the Witwatersrand (1980). Married to Evelyn Tiffin in 1930 and they adopt 5 children over the years. After Evelyn dies in 1967, he marries his personal assistant of almost 30 years, Doris Lancaster, in 1968. [TH, JH]


Binge, 1969, Hauptfleisch, 1985, Du Toit, 1988

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