Kanna hy kô Hystoe

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Kanna hy kô Hystoe ("Kanna’s Coming Home") by Adam Small. An upsetting, but superbly moving Afrikaans verse play about the issues of voluntary exile, forced removals and the trials and tribulations of a "coloured" family in District Six in Cape Town. One of the best plays to come out of the apartheid era.

The text

Possibly a reworking of an earlier English play, Gone Canada, written in 196*, later rewritten in Afrikaans to become Kanna hy kô Hystoe.

An extract of the Afrikaans text , without a title and with "Kanna" named still "Hannie", was published in Contrast (March 1965).

The full text under the new name first published by Tafelberg Uitgewers in 1965. Initially called an unperformable text by critics such as W.E.G. Louw and Abel Coetzee, it proved to be a moving theatrical work in production. Reprinted often and prescribed (and produced) numerous times since, by Universities and schools.

Performance history in South Africa

196*: First performed by DRAMSOC, the University of the Western Cape's drama society, directed by Small himself. This society later became the Cape Flats Players, who would often do it over the years, as a standard part of their repertoire.

1971: The first professional production was, ironically, done in the experimental theatre housed in the Old Presidency by PACOFS (Bloemfontein) from 3-12 August 1971, directed by Johan Botha and featuring Louise Mollett-Prinsloo as "Makiet", Jan Prinsloo as Kanna, Trudie Taljaard as "Kietie" and Henk Hugo. The playwright, given special permission to stay in the Orange Free State for the rehearsals of his play, had to attend a special rehearsal, alone, since by law he was not allowed to join the whites-only audience.

1974: The first Cape performance opened at the Nico Malan Theatre on 22 November 1974, directed by Pieter Fourie. The playwright, specially invited, refused to attend as no other coloured people could attend. The cast: Sandra Kotzé (Makiet), Cobus Rossouw, Jana Cilliers, Pierre van Pletzen, Ulrich Fobian, Anna Cloete, André Rossouw, Juanita Swanepoel, Marie Pentz, Willem de la Querra, James Blanckenberg, Fitz Morley, Pieter Geldenhuys, Mees Xteen and others. Lighting by Pieter de Swardt, costumes by Jenny de Swardt, music byTheo Young.

1974? Staged at the Alexander Theatre (by PACT?,) with Wilna Snyman as Makiet.

1975: Produced by the Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre, directed by Ria Olivier, with Herman Pretorius (Kanna), Leona Rich (Makiet), Johan Fourie (Diekie), Jannie Hofmeyr (Toefie), Emile Aucamp (Bai) and others.

1976: by PACT in 1976,

1976: a second PACOFS production

1976: Directed by Mavis Taylor in 1976 with Marthinus Basson, Alison Marquard, Babs Laker;

1981: Done by the Eersterus Performing Arts Council, Pretoria (in association with PACT) in 1981, directed by ** starring Dot Feldman, **.

1999 Done by the Cape Flats Players at Aardklop and KKNK to celebrate their first 25 years (they now called the Cape Flats-Spelers in Afrikaans), directed by Peter Braaf, with Ivan Sylvester, Lloyd Davids, Janine Louw, Marc Morilly, Bertram Adams, Paul Cookson, Sandra Braaf and Brenda Sylvester.

2003-4: Done by the Baxter Theatre in June 2004, directed by Royston Stoffels, design by Patrick Curtis and featuring Peter Butler, Denise Newman, Liande Snell, Irvine Van der Merwe, Paul Savage, Ivan Abrahams, Mary Daniels, Carmen Maarman, Merlin Balie, Theodore Jantjies and Abbe-Gail Hartogh.

Reprinted often and produced numerous times since, by Universities, professionals and amateurs.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as Kanna – He is Coming Home by Carol Lasker and Adam Small. Performed in the USA and published by Garland in 1990. Published by Tafelberg Uitgewers.

Its first production in English ( as Kanna Is Coming Home) was a Baxter Theatre production directed by Peter Krummeck in January 1985. The cast included several members of the Cape Flats Players.

In 1994 the play was adapted for the radio and broadcast on RSG with Kevin Smith as Kanna, Shaleen Surtie-Richards as Makiet and Soli Philander, Duncan Johnson, June van Merch, Jackie Davids, Roderick Jafta and Nazli George in the other roles. Johan Rademan directed and the music was composed amd performed by Louis van Rensburg.


Theatre programme 1974.

UTS theatre programme 1975.

Grütter, Wilhelm, CAPAB 25 Years, 1987. Unpublished research. p 334.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

Barrow, Brian & Williams-Short, Yvonne 1988.

Cape Times, 9 June 2004.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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