Francois Swart

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Francois Swart (1938-1994) was a highly regarded actor and director.

His first name sometimes written in the French style as François Swart.


Possessed of a superbly resonant voice, he trained under Elizabeth Sneddon at the Department of Speech and Drama at the University of Natal

He died of cancer at the age of fifty-six in January 1994.


Swart started out as an actor, but gradually turned to directing and developed into one of the finest directors the country has ever seen. Probably his period of most impact was his stint as Artistic Director at PACT between 1972 and 1978, when he not only put on marvellous productions of local and international plays, but specifically guided an inspired PACT Afrikaans company and the budding new playwrights of the time (e.g. Bartho Smit, André P. Brink Chris Barnard, P.G. du Plessis) to what is still considered by many to be the first golden age of Afrikaans theatre.

He ended his career with a short stint as Professor of Drama at Rhodes University (198*-198*), a time during which he trained and mentored a number of leading performers and authors, notably playwrights Reza de Wet and Deon Opperman.

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

As actor

He starred in the PACT production Hamlet which was staged at the Civic Theatre in 1964. It was directed by Margaret Inglis and also starred Reinet Maasdorp, Joan Blake and Joe Stewardson in 1964.

Was cast as a young Germanicus in the 19** NTO production of N.P. van Wyk Louw’s epic tragedy. Other major roles for NTO and PACT include **, **,

He starred in Leonard Schach’s production of Shaw’s Heartbreak House for PACT at the Alexander Theatre in 1967. It also starred Siegfried Mynhardt, Alec Bell, Elizabeth Meyer, Kerry Jordan, Joan Blake, Frank Lazarus and Maggie Soboil.

He played the Cardinal in Die Hamer van die Hekse

As director

Stage director

PACT staged an Afrikaans translation of The Italian Straw Hat (Die Italiaanse Strooihoed) which he directed at the Intimate Theatre in 1966.

He directed the Restoration comedy classic The Beaux Stratagem at the Brooke Theatre in 1966 for PACT.

He directed Die Drie Van Der Walts for TRUK in 1969.

He staged Shakespeare’s King John with Ken Leach in the lead, and Ampie in 1970.

He directed A Winter Vacation by Don Maclennan for PACT at the Arena in 1970.

He won best director for his direction of P.G. du Plessis’s Siener in die Suburbs starring Marius Weyers and Sandra Prinsloo which was stage by PACT in 1971.

In 1972 PACT/TRUK, under directorship of Swart, staged Shakespeare’s Richard III directed by Ken Leach, John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves, directed by Taubie Kushlick, John Hussey’s production of the Peter Shaffer double bill Black Comedy and White Liars with Ruth Oppenheim and Eckard Rabe and Truida Louw’s Afrikaans production of Schiller’s Maria Stuart, all of which took place at the Alexander Theatre.

His inspired direction of Du Plessis’s record breaking tragedy Siener in die Suburbs made him, the playwright and the cast household names. He directed Molière’s Tartuffe which was staged at the Alexander Theatre in 1973, Plaston: DNS-Kind (1974), 'n Seder val in Waterkloof (1975), he directed Sandra Prinsloo in an Afrikaans translation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler for PACT in 1974 PACT staged his Afrikaans production of Othello with Louis van Niekerk, Sandra Prinsloo and Marius Weyers in 1975, he directed PACT’s production of Simon Gray’s Butley with Michael McCabe at the Alexander Theatre in 1977,

In 1979 he directed the following plays for PACT: Terence Rattigan’s Ross ([1]) with Michael McCabe for PACT, Schlengemann’s Die Drie Van Der Walts starring Don Lamprecht, Wilna Snyman and Errol Ross, John Pank’s Windmills of the Mind with Kerry Jordan, Michael McCabe, John Hussey and Bobby Heaney and Becket of die Eer van God (Anouilh) with Marius Weyers and Franz Marx.

He directed Eduardo di Filippo’s Filumena starring Wilna Snyman which formed part of the opening season of the Pretoria State Theatre in 1981.

He directed the PACT production of William Gibson’s Monday After the Miracle, the sequel to The Miracle Worker starring Sandra Duncan and Pamela Gien at the Pretoria State Theatre and the Alexander Theatre in 1982.

Wilna Snyman speel Anastasia, Die Vroue van Troje, Hamlet. Francois Swart (dir) First Monday in October, 1980, CAPAB. (First English role). Theodora, 1981, Staatsteater, Pta.

He directed Christopher Hampton’s Savages with Michael McCabe and Frantz Dobrowsky for PACT in 1982.

He directed an Afrikaans translation of James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter called Die Leeu in die Winter starring Wilna Snyman and Louis van Niekerk for PACT in 1982.

Bloedbruilof – Federico Garcia Lorca, Regie: Francois Swart, Vertaling: André Brink; met Wilna Snyman, Jacques Loots & Johan Malherbe. Ontwerp: Chris van den Berg, Sand Du Plessis Theatre, Aug. 1985

Don Juan onder die BoereBartho Smit; Regie: Francois Swart, met Wilna Snyman, Pierre van Pletzen, Arnold Vosloo, Johan Malherbe, Jacques Loots. Ontwerp: dekor – Johan Badenhorst; Kostuums: James Parker; Sand du Plessis Theatre, 1985

Die Vasvat van 'n Feeks (198*), Germanicus (Van Wyk Louw, 198*) ***, Look Back in Anger (1986), Mary Stuart (1987), *** and ***.

He directed PACT’s Look Back in Anger at the Alexander Theatre in 1987.

He directed Marius Weyers and Sandra Prinsloo in an Afrikaans translation of Hamlet for TRUK in 1987.

He directed As You Like It for PACT in 1989.

He directed Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot at the State Theatre in 1989.

He directed Uys Krige’s Afrikaans version of King Lear in 1990.

He directed PACT, PACOFS and NAPAC’s production of My Fair Lady at the State Theatre in 1990.

He directed Lerner and Lowe’s Brigadoon at the Pretoria State Theatre in 1991.

He directed Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman in 1992.

His production of Lerner and Lowe’s Gigi was staged at the Pretoria State Theatre in 1992.

He directed Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance in 1993.

Film director

Primarily a stage director, Swart made only two essays into film directing, starting out with a filmed version of his iconic production of Siener in die Suburbs in 1973 and followed by Skadu's van Gister (1974).


He won best director for his direction of P.G. du Plessis’s Siener in die Suburbs starring Marius Weyers and Sandra Prinsloo which was staged by PACT in 1971


Tucker, 1997.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

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