Willem de la Querra
Willem de la Querra (1922-1992) (sometimes credited as Willem de la Guerre) was a stage and film actor, theatre manager, technician and administrator. He was also a painter, author and poet.
Born Joseph William Cybert de la Querra on 15 September 15, 1922, one of 8 children, and raised in George. He married Catharina Gezina Burger and the couple had five children, including Billy de la Querra and Carin de la Querra.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
He becamed enamoured with theatre and performance as a young boy when Pagel's Circus came to town, and he volunteered his services as a helper. He was fascinated by the performances of the clowns, and the spellbinding atmosphere of the performance.
In 1945 he became a professional actor. At first he toured with the Johan Fourie-toneelgeselskap, then in the early 50's he founded his own Koffiehuis touring company, playing in the Cape Province and South West Africa. For these shows he created the character of "Vaalwillem", an unkempt individual, in need of a haircut and decent clothes, and his wife, "Meraai", sharing their larger than life experiences with audiences.
In 1952, the age of 30, with his first child on its way, he dissolved his company, to find a more "stable" job as signwriter.
In the early 1960s he was appointed secretary, publicist and set-builder for the Drama Department of the University of Stellenbosch. Besides apparently appearing in Departmental productions as actor (e.g. in Die Boesman Venus, 1964), he from time to time also built sets and performed in plays put on by the Libertas Teater in Stellenbosch.
One play he worked on was the Shirley Ehlers and Johan van Jaarsveld production of Lobola vir die Lewe, and this apparently got him noticed by CAPAB, which led to a full time job as actor (from 1965 to 1979). Die Idioot by Dostoyevsky, directed by Jo Gevers for CAPAB 1969.
He was largely a character actor and often a bit-part player, and among the highlights with CAPAB were roles in Die Loodswaaiers, 'n Seder val in Waterkloof, Die Paddas, Othello, Mooi Maria and Die Geldpot.
In 1976 however he was cast in the lead role of "Faan" in Pieter Fourie's Faan se Trein (1975) and again in Faan se Stasie (1976), a role he would play on and off for the next five years and made him famous.
Die Geldpot theatre programme, 1980.
Private e-mail correspondence with Billy de la Querra, 8-10 June 2015.
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