P.H.C. Pohl(18**-19**) was a musician, actor and cultural leader in Graaff-Reinet.
Born as Pieter Hendrik Cornelius Pohl, he became a lawyer's clerk in Pretoria, then joined the Boer forces and was captured. Learnt about theatre while a prisoner-of-war in India, where he became part of a lively debating society and member of a toneelkomitee ("drama committee"), the members of which wrote and performed short dialogues for the prisoners.
Returned to South Africa in 1902, he settled as a lawyer in Graaff-Reinet, where he became a prominent civic leader. His whole family became involved in cultural matters and his daughters Anna Pohl (better known as Anna Neethling-Pohl) and Truida Pohl (later known as Truida Louw) were to become famous as actresses and directors for stage and radio, while his son Jan Pohl and other daughter Snaps Pohl would also make their mark in theatrical circles, in Pretoria and Vereeniging respectively.
Contribution to South African theatre and performance
He joined the Hollandsche Debatsvereniging , an active Dutch debating society, putting on plays such as C.J. Langenhoven's Die Water Zaak (1907) and **'s Anjelina (1908). One of the founders of and a director and leading actor with the Graaff-Reinetse Dramatische Vereniging, ***. After the disbandment of this society in 1912, Pohl was welcomed with open arms by the previously exclusively English Graaff-Reinet Amateur Dramatic and Musical Society, with whom he worked till 1915, doing Afrikaans and English works (including Piet s'n Tante -1914, and Die Trouwbelofte). When the outbreak of the First World War caused renewed tensions between Afrikaans and English people, the Afrikaans players split away to form Die Graaf-Reinetse Letterkundige en Toneel Vereniging. ("The Graaf Reinet Literary and Theatrical Society"), with Pohl as chairman. Their first production (Susanna Reyniers) was performed on 30-31 August 1917 and was a personal triumph for the director/actor Pohl. The society ceased to exist in 1926?*.
A natural talent, he was widely praised for his energy, directing and organisational abilities and talent as performer. His performances as actor was frequently placed on par with that of any professional by both English and Dutch critics. Ludwig Binge (19**) describes him as one of the two best actors in South Africa in the early years of the 20th Century.
He also trained and used numerous young people, including his own children, who were to go on to become well-known figures in various centres in the country.
Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 62-68
C.G. Henning. 1975. Graaff-Reinet - A Cultural History 1786-1886. Cape Town: T.V. Bulpin
P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica
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