Het Hoogduitsche Gezelschap van het Liefhebbery Theater

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Het Hoogduitsche Gezelschap van het Liefhebbery Theater ("The High-German Company for Amateur Theatre") was the Dutch name for the company of German amateurs who were briefly active in Cape Town , from about 1801 to 1803.

Also advertised as Het Hoogduitsch Liefhebbery Toneel-Gezelschap, with the motto "Consacré à la bien faisance Honi soit qui mal y pense".

The company was possibly made up of a remnants of the German soldiers who had been in the service of the VOC (i.e. the Dutch East India company) and civilian immigrants. They seemed to have a good relationship with the English garrison, and performed in the African Theatre.

In some adverts they are referred to as De Liefhebbers van het Toneel en het Muziekgeselschap, signalling the German love of musical concerts, which would lead to theatrical activities gradually making way for musical events, including, from 1 April 1803 onwards, weekly concerts (on Wednesday evenings).

With that they apparently ceased to exist as a German company, for nothing is heard of them after this and no further theatre presentations have been found for the company.

Impact on SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Their theatre performances in the three years of their active life include:

1802: On 13 February they performed Die Schachmaschine, oder Geniestreiche über Geniestreiche (Heinrich Beck, 1797) in the African Theatre. (According to Bosman, 1928, p. 79, this was the first theatre production in Cape Town for which an advert has been found.)

1802: On 17 July performed Der Wildfang (Von Kotzebue)and De Moetwillige Jongen (Ogier) in the African Theatre, Cape Town, the latter play in Dutch. Advertised wrongly in the Kaapsche Courant as De Wildfang. Both pieces repeated on 24 July 1802.

1803: On 12 March performed Der Ueberrasschung and Das Friedens-feyer in the African Theatre, Cape Town, both in German.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 78-81, 114

Programme for a performance by Deutsche Schauspieler-Gesellschaft, Düsseldorf in 1804.ZVDD Digital Collections[2]F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 78,

Lesley Sharpe. 2007. National Repertoire: Schiller, Iffland and the German Stage. Peter Lang: p. 164. [4]

Simon Richter. 2005. The Literature of Weimar Classicism. Boydell & Brewer: p.142[5]


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