UKOVS Dramatiese Vereniging
The UKOVS Dramatiese Vereniging is more familiar name for the clumsy title Universiteitskollege van die Oranje-Vrystaat Dramatiese Vereniging ("The University College of the Orange Free State Dramatic Society"), and perhaps the name by which the amateur dramatic work at the University of the Free State is best known over the years.
The society went through a number of name and structural changes over the years. Starting as the Grey Universiteitskollege-Toneelvereniging (or GUK Toneelvereniging), it later became known as the GUK Dramatic Society, the UKOVS Dramatiese Vereniging, then finally the Universiteits Toneelbeweging (UTB) or Universiteitstoneelgroep van Bloemfontein (U.T.B.).
More colloquially known as the GUK Toneelvereniging (or GUKTV), it was founded in 1911 under the leadership of Prof A. Francken, to serve as a dramatic society for staff and students at the Grey University College "to promote social life among Afrikaans students in Bloemfontein".
In 1913 for example they did a production of Francken's own play Susanna Reyniers, with three professors taking part as actors. One of them was the author D.F. Malherbe, who also wrote, directed and performed in a number of plays for the society.
In 1919 the society came under leadership of Eric Moortens (Maartens?*) and took on the English name GUK Dramatic Society. The main aim was ostensibly to promote Afrikaans and English theatre, but a real purpose proved to be the recruiting of students for the almost insolvent College at the time. Their first production (1920) was Die Koerantskrywers ("The Newspaper Reporters" by Gustav Freitag, translated by J.F.W. Grosskopf), which toured through the Orange Free State and the Transvaal accompanied by a 9-member orchestra. In 1929 members like D.F. Malherbe, Benedictus Kok, Bram Fischer, Bailey Bekker and P.J. Meyer appeared in plays such as Meester (by D.F. Malherbe), As die Tuig Skawe (J.F.W. Grosskopf) en Die Swart Kat (D.C. Postma) under the guidance of H. van der Merwe-Scholz, again touring the province.
In 1937, when the college changed its name to the University College of the Orange Free State, the society became the UKOVS Dramatiese Vereniging ("UKOVS Dramatic Society")
In 1950 when the college became a fully fledged university, the dramatic organisation became known simply as the UTB (Universiteits Toneelbeweging = "University Theatre Movement"). With the inauguration of the UOFS Drama Department under Jo Gevers in 1965 the UTB initially flourished because directors could be drawn from its ranks and tours undertaken. Memorable directors from this period were Jo Gevers and Henk Hugo with plays such as Jakkalsstreke van Scapino ("Fox tricks of Scapin": Moliere) and Charley's Aunt (Brandon Thomas). The UTB ceased to exist just after 1970.
In the theatre programme of Jakkalsstreke van Scapino the acronym UTB is given as U.T.B. and the organisation is referred to as the Universiteitstoneelgroep van Bloemfontein ("University Theatre Group of Bloemfontein").
Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 19, 102, 153
P.J. du Toit, 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica
Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg.
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