Wits School of Dramatic Arts

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The Wits School of Dramatic Arts is one of the names by which the department responsible for drama and theatre training at the University of the Witwatersrand has been known over the years.

Originally named the School of Dramatic Art or University of the Witwatersrand School of Dramatic Art, this is one of the 9 original drama departments in the country. It has had numerous formal and informal names over the years, including the University of the Witwatersrand School of Dramatic Art, the Wits School of Dramatic Art, Wits Drama Department, the Wits School of Speech and Drama and so on. It is today known as the Division of Dramatic Arts in the Wits School of the Arts[1], which is serviced by a Performing Arts Administration.


The idea of founding a School of Drama had been spearheded by Vice Chancellor Prof Karl Tober and in 1975 this was achieved when David Horner was appointed as Professor and Head of the School of Dramatic Art. In 19** he was followed by Ian Steadman as second head of the School. In 199* Steadman left to become dean and was followed by Fred Hagemann (199*-1999) and Malcolm Purkey (2000-2004) and was ***. Originally housed in the Nunnery, they had offices in ** In 199* a new Performing Arts Centre was constructed and Mannie Manim was appointed director. Over the years the School has produced numerous leading theatre practitioners and researchers, including Jerry Mofokeng, Carol Steinberg, Aubrey Sechabi, Themba Wakashe, Edward Jordan, Siphiwe Khumalo, Gine Schmukler, Irene Stephanou, Gina Benjamin, Vusi Kunene, Nadine Zylstra,

Today the department is part of the and includes four theatre and performance related divisions: Theatre & Performance[2], Drama for Life[3], Film & Television[4] and Cultural Management[5].


The department has used a number of venues on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand over the years. These include:

The Amphitheatre, The Nunnery, The Wits Box, The Wits Great Hall, and the Wits Theatre Complex (which houses the Wits Downstairs Theatre, and the Main Theatre).

They are today run commercially, and are also used by the Division of Dramatic Arts of the Wits School of Arts - all managed and serviced by a division known as Performing Arts Administration.

See also: Wits Venues







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