Wena Naudé

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Wena Naudé (1905-1978) was an actress for stage and screen and company manager.

(Also billed over years as Wani Naudé, Wina Naudé, Wania Naudé, Wenda Naudé, and Vena Naudé)



Born 31 December, 1905 in Volksrust, Transvaal, and baptised Agnes Alwena Naudé. She died in Pretoria on 6 September 1978. She was married to Willem van Zyl.



The venerable and much-loved Afrikaans actress Wena Naude's career spanned half a century. She began her theatrical career in 1925 in the company of Paul de Groot - the founder of professional theatre in South Africa - and Stephanie Faure with Huistoe and Oorskotjie and since that date has devoted her life to the Afrikaans theatre. From 1926 to 1931 she worked in association with Hendrik Hanekom in a number of plays, and in 1932 toured South West Africa with one of her greatest successes, Oorskotjie, the first Afrikaans theatrical company to visit the territory. During 1933/34 Miss Naude embarked on a study tour of theatres in Europe, during which time she presented the first performance of an Afrikaans play overseas - Van Riet van Rietfontein - in Amsterdam. On her return to South Africa she toured extensively with her own company and in 1938 appeared with Andre Huguenet in another of her greatest successes, By die Ou Meulstroom. In the following year she again made theatrical history by leading the first professional Afrikaans company to tour Rhodesia. Between 1939 and 1955 Miss Naude was seen in several plays for the NTO including As Ons Twee Eers Getroud Is, Die Ryk Weduwee, Ek Onthou vir Mamma and Die Wit Perde van Rosmersholm. She also worked for many years for Jaats and for Pact appeared in Bruidjie Dit en Bruidjie Dot and Die Lewe Wat Ek Jou Gegee Het. She appeared in many Afrikaans films and played in English on the stage in A State of Innocence and in the film The Second Sin. For Capab she was seen in Moenie Praat Nie, Richard III and Tartuffe.

Her first appearance was as a servant girl in Huis Toe for Paul de Groot in 1925. In June 1926, when Hendrik Hanekom and Paul de Groot amalgamated, she became a member of the new Paul de Groot Toneelgeselskap. For them she did Oorskotjie (1926), In 1928 she was given a second company, with which she toured under the De Groot banner, playing . In 1928 the company split and she joined Hendrik Hanekom's Afrikaanse Toneelgeselskap, for whom she did Oorskotjie and the lead in Onskuldig Veroordeel (a role in which she was billed as "the Mary Pickford of South Africa") in 1928-29, Die Uur van Vergelding ("The Hour of Retribution" ostensibly by "Friedrich Gunter") in 1930. In 1930 she married Willem van Zyl, and later the year they became Hendrik Hanekom's partners when the company was renamed the Hanekom-Van Zyl Geselskap. She did Wie is Wie (Who is Who by Will Evans) and Die Silwer Koning (The Silver King by H.A. Jones) for this company in 1931. She also played By die ou Meulstroom for André Huguenet's new company in 1938. . See *** by **. Involved in the professionalization of theatre. For example in 1936 she was on the first executive of the shortlived Toneelbond founded by the F.A.K. and an advisor to its Toneelburo (1937).

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

One of the truly great Afrikaans actresses of stage and screen.

On stage she has appeared in Huistoe (1925-6), Die Inbreker by van Ees on tour 1927, led by WN, As Mans Huishou (1927), Oorskotjie (1928), Onskuldig Veroordeel (1929), Die Silwer Koning (circa 1931), Van Riet van Rietfontein (Amsterdam 1934), Die Verstoteling (circa 1935), Klein Lagduiweltjie produced by her company circa 1935, By die ou Meulstroom (1938), Vergewe en Vergeet (1945), Die Ryk Weduwee (NTO 1953), Ek Onthou vir Mamma (1954), Die Wit Perde van Rosmersholm (1955), Bruidjie Dit en Bruidjie Dot (1964), Die Lewe wat ek jou Gegee het (1964), Op Hoop van Seën (1964), Tartuffe in Afrikaans (1968), Moenie Praat Nie (1968), Die Idioot by Dostoyevsky]], directed by Jo Gevers for CAPAB(1969), Die Vader (1969), Kwart voor Dagbreek (date unknown).

Film roles include Die Vlugteling, Die Vlindervanger (film), Voor Sononder, Hans die Skipper, Jy's Lieflik Vanaand.

Awards, etc

She received the "Erepenning vir Toneelkuns" from the Academy in 1954.

She became honorary member of the actors equity union in 1971, and in 1975 Pact honoured her with a special award during the golden jubilee celebrations of the professional theatre in South Africa. A room is devoted to her and her work in the National Afrikaans Literature Museum and Research Centre in Bloemfontein, and a bust of her was later unveiled at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre.


Cape Times, 21 January 1969.

"Nou het die toneel my uitgespoeg", Dagbreek en Landstem, 7 Desember 1969

Tucker, 1997.

Helikon, 4(16), 1954.

Theron, FA 1991.

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