Die Keiser

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Die Keiser ("The Emperor") can refer to one of two theatrical works which have been produced in South Africa:

Die Keiser by Luigi Pirandello (1922)

Die Keiser, is the title of an Afrikaans translation of Luigi Pirandello's 1922 Italian play Enrico IV, translated and directed by Johann van Heerden in Stellenbosch, 1985.

The play is known by a number of names in English, including The Emperor, Henri IV and Henry IV.

For information on the Pirandello play, see the entry on Enrico IV

Die Keiser by Bartho Smit (1977)

Original text

A political satire by Bartho Smit (1924-1986) on (South African) society, the work is based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved tale of "The Emperor's New Clothes" ("Kejserens nye Klæder", originally published on 7 April 1837). A full-length play in Afrikaans, it was first produced in Pretoria by PACT in 1978, directed by Francois Swart.

Published by Perskor, 1977, winner of the Perskor Prize 1979, it is one of Smit's least controversial texts and became a standard work for companies and prescribed text for schools and universities.

Translations and Adaptation

Translated into English as The Naked Emperor by Aart de Villiers and Don Lamprecht in 1982.


1978: First produced by PACT in 1978, directed by Francois Swart, with Don Lamprecht (Keiser), Louise Mollett-Prinsloo (Keiserin), Tobie Cronje (Kultuur), Dawid van der Merwe (Veldmaarskalk), Pierre van Pletzen (Diplomaat), Gerben Kamper (Hofnar), Paul Lückhoff (Wag), Phillip Swart (Kamerheer), Etienne Puren (Wewer), Elise Hubert (Tiengelieng), Eric Nobbs (Soldaat) and Nic van Rensburg (Soldaat).

1989: Directed by Marthinus Basson for the CAPAB production in 1989 in the Nico Malan Theatre starring Raél Mercuur, Casper de Vries, Willie Fritz, Louw Verwey, Jozua van der Lugt, Neels Coetzee, Antoinette Kellermann, Gustav Geldenhuys, Elma van Wijk, Royston Stoffels. Music Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, designs John Caviggia, lighting Skip Wright.

1992: PACT 1992, in the State Theatre Arena, directed by Dieter Reible starring Louis van Niekerk (as Die Nar), Antoinette Kellermann, Gustav Geldenhuys, Wilmien Rossouw, Tjaart Potgieter. Hannes Muller. Costumes designed by Chris van den Berg.

1993: Gerben Kamper directed a PACOFS production starring Jannie Gildenhuys, Ernst Eloff, Marga van Rooy, Pieter Brand, A.J. van der Merwe, Louw Verwey, Blaise Koch [?] and others.

1998: Presented by PACT for a third time (May 1998), this time under the direction of Hannes Muller, decor and costume designs by David Clatworthy. In the lead role was Christo Compion and other members of the cast were Jean Marais, Lizz Meiring, Jan Stoop, Jacques Botes, Walton van der Westhuizen, Rian Terblanche, Morné Malan and Zeldine Theron.

2000: Presented by the University of Cape Town Drama Department.

2008: Directed by Gaerin Hauptfleisch for Stercus Produksies at KKNK 2008, starring Deon Lotz, Esther von Waltsleben, Chris Fourie, André Samuels, Irvine van der Merwe, Jan-Hendrik Opperman, Stephanie Hough, Riaan Visman and Geon Nel.


Die Vrye Weekblad, 2 June 1989.

Insig, June 1992.

Beeld, 13 May 1998.

Die Keiser theatre programme (CAPAB), 1989.

UTS theatre pamphlet

NELM: Collection: Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS)]: 2009. 67. 1. 2. 22[Folder containing nine black and white photographs of Jannie Gildenhuys, Ernst Eloff, Marga van Rooy, Pieter Brand, A.J. van der Merwe, Louw Verwey, Blaise Koch[?] and others in scenes from the 1993 PACOFS production of Die Keiser by "Barto Smith" (sic?)]

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