South West Africa Performing Arts Council

Jump to navigation Jump to search

The South West Africa Performing Arts Council (SWAPAC) was a state funded performing arts council , founded in South West Africa in 1966, based on the model created in South Africa in 1962.

Known as Suid-Wes Afrikaanse Raad vir die Uitvoerende Kunste (SWARUK in Afrikaans.

It formed part of the SACPAC group of councils and had the same aims. With the coming of independence in 1989, the Council became fully independent of the South African Performing Arts Councils, and was incorporated as an Association Not For Gain and renamed the National Theatre of Namibia.


The first discussions about a performing arts council for South West Africa (now Namibia), took place on the 25th of July 1966 and on the 25th of September 1966 the constitution of the Council, management and first executive committee was tabled in the Legislature. An initial grant of R25 000 was made available in the first year.

Administration: Between 1966 and 1970 the secretarial and administrative work for SWAPAC was the responsibility of a part-time secretary and treasurer, C.A. de Wet. In 1970 R.J. Engelbrecht took over, gradually expanding his portfolio to that of Adjunct Director (Finance) in 1981.

In January 1974 Johan Botha became the first full-time Drama Organiser for SWAPAC, followed by Cobus Rossouw (1977-78) and Mees Xteen (1979-199*, with Marco van der Colff as his assistant from 1980). The first full-time Director, E.P. Grobbelaar, was only appointed on the 3rd of March, 1975. He was followed in quick succession by Rex Hugo (1977-78), D. Reid (1978-80) and Hannes Horne (1980-1989).


The Council only obtained its own offices in the Marie Neef Building in Kaiser Street, in February 1971, moving to offices next to the Windhoek Theatre in July 1973. In 1977 they also obtained more office space in a house on the corner of John Meinert and Leutwein Streets. In October 1981 they moved into more commodious offices in the historic old Sesmanhuis at John Meinert Street no 12.

In 1973 SWAPAC obtained the use of the Windhoek Theatre (Windhoek Teater) itself. It had been enlarged and improved and was then handed over to SWAPAC on 12 April 1973. Later a workshop theatre and an outdoor performance space were added.


The Council was intended to perform plays in English, Afrikaans and German, and in the first few years they really only acted as a funding organisation for amateur productions, visiting professional companies and local talent, in close co-operation with the four South African performing arts councils. It was only with the appointment of the first Drama organiser in 1974 that it could really begin operating as a fully fledged council in the way the others in South Africa did. It now developed its own companies to undertake local productions and tour the regions. The same was true of SWAPAC Opera, which was initially not yet competent enough to host its own operas and was dependent on South Africa’s arts councils to supply it with productions, though it later did its own productions as well as joint productions with outside companies.

Among the drama highlights over the years have been Drie Engeltjies op Duiwelseiland (their first independent production, directed by Johan Botha in 1974), Chris Barnard's Taraboemdery (directed by André P. Brink in 1976), André P. Brink's Die Koffer, Othello (In Afrikaans, as translated by Anna Neethling-Pohl, 1977), Uys Krige's Die Ryk Weduwee (198*), Adam Small's Kanna hy kô Hystoe (19**), Peter Schaffer's Equus (19**), Nash's Die Reënmaker (The Rainmaker, 19**), Molière's Die Vrek (The Misanthrope, 19**), Lessing's Kabale und Liebe (19**), Storey's Home (19**), A.E. Schlengemann's Die Drie van der Walts (October 1980, celebrating the local author's 75th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his death), Kern and Hammerstein's Showboat (1981), **.

An annual closing revue was introduced by Mees Xteen in 1979, these shows included Hennie Aucamp's Die Lewe is 'n Grenshotel (1979), El Grande de Coca Cola (1980), and Kom Ons Hou Konsert (1981), .


Hannes Horne in Temple Hauptfleisch (ed). 1985a. The Breytie Book: A Collection of Articles on South African Theatre Dedicated to P.P.B. Breytenbach. Johannesburg: The Limelight Press.[1]


Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to South_African_Films

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to South African Radio Plays and Serials

Return to South African Television Plays and Series

Return to South_African_Venues,_Companies,_Societies,_etc

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page

Return to

Return to South African Theatre Venues, Companies, Societies, etc

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page