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Sunday, October 20, 2013


The Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre and Performance (ESAT) is 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.

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 programmes and is published on the web with the assistance of the Drama Department ( and its Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies), the J S Gericke Library and the division for Information Technology at the University of Stellenbosch (

The aim of the ESAT encyclopaedia 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, journalist 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 the theatre enthusiast nationally and internationally.

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 founder, Temple Hauptfleisch, 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 Encyclopaedia's ESAT database will inevitably be disappointed by something in the work.

“However, we accept this as part of the process,” says the ESAT team. “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 only found 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, however, can be directed to the general editor, Temple Hauptfleisch at or to the editorial assistant, Miriam Terblanche

Readers and researchers are invited to help ESAT expand and improve. Update and correct ESAT by sending any information, contributions, relevant comments, material or information the Editor: ESAT at the Department of Drama, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa. E-mail address:; Fax 021 882 9141 (See Updating ESAT on the website itself for more information.)