Temple Hauptfleisch

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Temple Hauptfleisch (1945-) is an academic, theatre researcher, historian, archivist, critic and dramatist.

He has also written some plays under the nom de plume of Anton Haarhoff.


Born on 27 June 1945 in Bloemfontein, to George Stephanus Hauptfleisch and Katerina Dafina Hauptfleisch (néé Du Plessis). His cousin, the South African stage, radio and film actor Pieter Hauptfleisch, was an early inspiration for a career in theatre.

Married teacher, librarian and arts researcher Karina Lou Bekker in 1968 and the couple have two children, IT Company director Anzel Mercker and playwright, director, and theatre practitioner Gaerin Hauptfleisch.


He had his schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein (1950-1962), where - remarkably - he was in the same class with a number of individuals who would make a mark for themselves in the performing arts, among them the theatre and film practitioners Johan Bernard and Johan Geyser, the journalists and critics John-Murray Viljoen and Braam Muller, and the playwright and script writer Kobus Louw.

After a year as American Field Service exchange student at Myrtle Point High in Oregon, USA (where he first tried his hand at poetry) - he went to the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS) to complete a BA in English and Latin, and a BA Hons in English (1963-1969). Here his interests were strongly stimulated by influential lecturers with an interest in theatre, such as the award-winning Afrikaans playwright Gerhard Beukes, the charismatic English lecturer Robert Wahl and the head of the new drama department, Jo Gevers. Further studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA) led to an M.A. in English in 1972 with the thesis Greek Dramatic Conventions in Modern Drama and a D.Litt. et Phil. in 1978 with the title The Play as Communication: A Study of the Language of Drama. His supervisors were Leon Hugo and Ian Ferguson.


Became a teacher at Grey College, Bloemfontein, in 1968, where he co-founded the Grey College Dramatic Society with Charles Malan in 1969, and was a part-time actor and front of house manager for the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS).

In 1972 joined the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria as sociolinguist, from 1978 head of the National Documentation Centre for the Performing Arts, which he later re-focused and called the Centre for South African Theatre Research (CESAT). In this period his major mentors were Carlos Tindemans, J.L. Styan, P.P.B. Breytenbach, Rinie Stead, P.G. du Plessis and Stephen Gray.

Appointed a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in 1988, to lecture and write on text analysis, the sociology and theory of theatre and performance and the history of South African theatre. In 1994 he founded the Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies and was made an ad hominem professor in view of his publishing record.

When Herman Pretorius, the then head of the department, left the University, Hauptfleisch was elected Chair of the Department (1995-2005) and director of the H.B. Thom Theatre (1995-2003). He later also ran a departmental course in playwriting for a number of years.

After retiring as chair, he served as research professor and Director of the Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies for another five years (2006-2010), before retiring from the university as Emeritus Professor at the end of 2010 to devote his time to ESAT and other research and theatre projects.

In June 2022 he was appointed for a period of 3 years as an Honorary Professor in the Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation at the University of Stellenbosch.

Other academic positions

A member of numerous academic societies, he has held executive positions in a few, including:

Founding member and first secretary of the South African Association for Drama and Youth Theatre (SAADYT)

Member of the executive of the International Federation for Theatre Research (1998-2007).

Founder and former chair of the South African Society Theatre Research (1999-2002)

Member of the international advisory board for The Marvin Carlson Theatre Center at the Shanghai Theatre Academy (2016-)

Honorary Member of the African Theatre Association (2020-).

Editorial work

He was the founding editor of the SAADYT Journal and the co-founder, co-editor and publisher of the South African Theatre Journal (with Ian Steadman) (1987-1997), later became sole editor & publisher for 13 years (1998-2010), then co-editor again (with Petrus du Preez) (2011-2013), before stepping down from the editorial board in 2014.

He has also been a member of the editorial boards of the journals Critical Arts, Shakespeare in Southern Africa (1986-1990), African Performance Review (2006-), Perfformio (2008-), Critical Perspectives (2007-), and Critical Stages (2008-).

On the editorial board for the Rodopi book series Themes in Theatre: Collective Approaches to Theatre and Performance (Editor Peter Eversman) and the Transnational Theatre Histories Series published by Palgrave Macmillan (Editor Christopher B. Balme).


He has written on a wide spectrum of topics over the years, both as academic and as creative writer.

As academic, researcher and commentator

Besides a number of publications on various aspects of the sociology of language (including a 4 volume report on Language Loyalty in South Africa), he has written and published more than eighty works on the history of South African theatre, research methodology and the sociology of theatre since 1978, including numerous encyclopaedia entries on aspects of theatre and performance in the country for international publishers, and 8 book-length publications on the history and sociology of South African and international theatre. (See South African Theatre/Bibliography for a full list of his publications.)

The most influential books have been Athol Fugard: A Source Guide (Co-authors: Wilma Viljoen and Celeste van Greunen, Johannesburg: Ad Donker, 1982), South African Theatre - Four plays and an Introduction (Co-author & -editor with Ian Steadman, Pretoria: De Jager-HAUM 1984), The Breytie Book: Essays on South African Theatre. (Johannesburg: The Limelight Press, 1985), Theatre and Society in South Africa: Reflections in a Fractured Mirror (J.L. van Schaik, 1997), Festivalising! Theatrical Events, Politics and Culture (co-edited with Shulamith Lev-Aladgem, Jacqueline Martin, Willmar Sauter and Henri Schoenmakers, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 2007).

Since his retirement from the University of Stellenbosch in 2010, he has undertaken ongoing research with The African Theatre and Performance Working Group of the IFTR, with an emphasis on the theatrical system and festival culture, and begun to devote his time to the online, open access archival/publication project entitled is the Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre, Film, Media and Performance (ESAT), which he first began in about 2000, but formally set up in 2010. He is the current project leader and chief editor.

In addition, after retirement, he has continued writing articles for various collections and edited and co-edited three books: an annotated text of Woza Albert! (Methuen, 2018), and (with Marisa Keuris) collected essays on the playwrights Reza de Wet (2020) and Bartho Smit (2023) for the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns.

As creative writer, playwright and compiler of play collections

He began by writing and publishing a few poems and a short story, before turning to playwriting, producing 15 plays and editing and publishing 11 play-collections for schools.


One act plays: Wie is Leopold?(written 1971, published 1980), Boomhuis, Droomhuis (1982),

Full length plays: Bloedlyn ("Bloodline", unpublished, performed 1974), Op Salvokop (unpublished, performed 1984?), André (published 1985) and One for the Road to Damaskus (unpublished, 2002 - a bilingual play based on a fictional meeting between Mark Twain[1] and C.J. Langenhoven, developed with the aid of a National Arts Council grant).


He compiled and edited the following collections of plays:

As sole editor:

Boomhuis, Droomhuis en Ander Eenbedrywe (1982), Die Spieël en die Weerkaatsing (1985),

With others:

With P.P.B. Breytenbach: Die Kleiner Kosmos (1980),

With P.J. du Toit: Voetlig 1 (1983), Voetlig 2 (1983)

With Ian Steadman: South African Theatre: Four Plays and an Introduction (1984)

With Ted Townsend: Players: A Collection of One-act Plays (1987)

With Ulla Wood: Storieboom (1989), ‘n Rooie met Ratte (1990)

With Herman Pretorius: Die Magiese Kring (1991)

Awards and distinctions

Winner, ATKV One-Act Playwriting Competition 1971 (for the play Wie is Leopold?).

Vita Award for Theatre Research (1982)

Rector’s Award for Outstanding Research, Stellenbosch University (1999)

Since 2002 has held a B-rating as researcher from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).

In 2013 received the Kuns Onbeperk Toekenning ("Arts Unlimited Award") for services to the arts.

He was elected an Honorary Member of the African Theatre Association (AfTA) in 2020, for his contribution to the advancement of African theatre, performance and culture.

Other work in theatre

He was an amateur and semi-professional actor in Bloemfontein for a while, playing mostly (very) minor roles for the University of the Orange Free State Dramatic Society, the University's newly founded Drama Department, the Bloemfontein Repertory Society, the Bloemfontein Shakespeare Circle and the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS) in the years 1964-1971. Productions included The Dark Lady of the Sonnets (Shaw), Move Over Mrs. Markham (Ray Cooney and John Chapman), Playing with Fire (Strindberg), The Rivals (Sheridan), The Tempest (Shakespeare) and Richard III (Shakespeare).

He was appointed part-time front of house manager for PACOFS between 1969 and 1971, and also co-founded the Grey College Dramatic Society with Charles Malan in 1969, directing a few plays with the pupils. As chair of the Drama Department in Stellenbosch, he was also ex officio director of the H.B. Thom Theatre, but he later created the position of Director and appointed Johan Esterhuizen as first incumbent.


Curriculum Vitae of Temple Hauptfleisch




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