ESAT: an interactive resource for theatre and performance researchers

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The Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre and Performance

Founder and general editor: Temple Hauptfleisch
Editorial assistant: Miriam Terblanche
Web publisher: University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Editorial offices: University of Stellenbosch, Department of Drama

This is a brief note to introduce you to a new reference publication for theatre and performance researchers compiled by the Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa over the past 15 years, with the help of many researchers from the South African theatre community. The Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre and Performance (ESAT) is an open-access, internet-based interactive resource for theatre and performance researchers interested in the evolution, history and forms of drama, theatre and performance in South Africa. Deriving from the University of Stellenbosch's Libopedia, it uses the Wiki format and programs and is published on the web with the assistance of the Drama Department ( and its Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies), the JS Gericke Library and the division for Information Technology at the University of Stellenbosch (

The aim of ESAT is to create a comprehensive database on the history and nature of South African drama, theatre and performance (including dance, oral performance and similar forms), and to make it available as a general reference work and resource for the use of researchers, students, artists, journalists and all other interested parties. The intention of ESAT is to "publish" that material online, as it is, incomplete as it may be at this stage - with lacunae and even possible errors - and then to invite the academic and artistic community to help in expanding and improving on this material in order to make the results of all existing and emerging academic and other research more readily accessible to the general reader and theatre enthusiasts nationally and internationally. (For more on this see the entry on Updating ESAT.) In this sense the basic aim is rather to condense and collate available information on all South African theatre and performance forms (as far as they have been documented) in one place and in a handy and accessible digital format, rather than to undertake any comprehensive new research.

Right from the start, however, the general editor and the editorial team want to emphasise that this is simply the first version of what is, and must necessarily be, an ongoing and longer-term project, and that readers should be aware that virtually everyone using the ESAT database will inevitably be disappointed by something in the work. However, we accept this as part of the process. It is unavoidable that the entries will vary vastly – from exceedingly complete to very scant, since often only partial information could be found in the sources available. Dates of birth and death, for example, are sometimes difficult to find, while details of an organisation’s structure and history are frequently unrecorded. At times we found only the names of people or theatres involved in a particular production. However, in view of the basic aims of this publication, we felt that even the slightest bit of information, a mere mention of a name or a place, is ultimately more useful than none at all, so we have used the entries anyway. In some cases we have indicated that the data are incomplete by inserting an asterisk (*).

For more information, see the main page of the publication. Any specific or more complex enquiries regarding the project, the database or ESAT can be directed to the general editor, Temple Hauptfleisch, at [email protected] or to the editorial assistant, Miriam Terblanche, at [email protected].

The first, experimental, version of ESAT was originally published on the web in 2011.

Caveat for researchers and other users of ESAT


As stated above, you are using a public, open-access version of ESAT which is still very much a work in progress, the central project of a longer-term research programme. The material has now been opened for public use and participation at the request of individuals and institutions, to allow the data collated by the Centre over the past 15 years to be accessed in the interim, but please be aware that the text it is still far from complete and that many sections are as yet unedited and many may contain lacunae or errors which still need to be addressed. We started the process of uploading the material from our larger Word-based database of theatre and performance material into the ESAT Wiki program in 2011 and this is continuing, along with the parallel processes of editing and proofing the text.

A request for help

In view of the caveat above, should you come across errors or have information about any of the entries, or even about the (undoubtedly numerous) entries we have omitted, we would greatly value your communicating with us.

Indeed, as part of this phase of the research, readers and researchers are invited to help us expand, improve, update and correct ESAT by sending any information, contributions, relevant comments, material or information to The Editor: ESAT at the Department of Drama, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, MATIELAND 7602, South Africa. E-mail address: [email protected]; fax number: (+ 27) 21 882 9141. (See Updating ESAT on the website itself for more information.)

Note to researchers using ESAT material in publications:

To access ESAT

The General URL to ESAT is:

You can also access the encyclopaedia through a search engine such as Google by typing “ESAT theatre” or “Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre”.

On the Main Page you will find a guide to using the encyclopaedia and navigating your way through the entries.

Referencing an entry from ESAT in your own work

To refer to an entry (= article) when writing up your research findings, you can only refer to the entry as a whole, not to a page number (as with conventional publications), since ESAT does not have page numbers. You can then reference the entry by using the format of that page’s URL (which includes the name of the entry).


South African Theatre/Themes


Venues, Companies, etc,_Rys,_en_Aartappels





Read an interview with Temple Hauptfleisch.


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