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Sunday, March 16, 2014


It’sTaboo Productions is proud to present Dear Mrs Steyn in Durban after a short country tour. Award winning actress Alison Cassels gives a stunning performance as Emily Hobhouse.

A must-see production which will be particularly appreciated by women, Dear Mrs Steyn is highly recommended to drama and history students. The power and impact of women in society more than 100 years ago is still as applicable today and, seeing this in context, the audience relates to every bit of the action, drama and enormous responsibility that still lies with us in modern day.

Directed by Thomie Holtzhausen the play was originally compiled by Wilna Snyman and Deon Opperman based on letters written by Emily Hobhouse to Rachel Isabella Steyn during the Anglo Boer War. Steyn was the wife of President M T Steyn of the Orange River Colony whom she met during her stay in Bloemfontein whilst visiting the concentration camps. Emily Hobhouse and Mrs. Steyn were soul mates and became best of friends.

The letters Emily Hobhouse wrote are a true reflection of her experiences and observations during the war depicting the atrocious conditions, mismanagement and extremely high death toll in the camps.

The surrender of the Boer forces was mainly as a result of the attack on women and children. Emily estimates these at more than 25 deaths per day. Her letters are also full of humour and her personal experiences in South Africa and back in England.

Anton van Wouw, responsible for the Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein found his inspiration in discussions with Miss Hobhouse. Miss Hobhouse was invited to officiate at the opening of the Memorial but fell ill and could not attend. Her speech was read by her close friend, Mrs. Steyn.

Playing the formidable Emily Hobhouse is one of KZN’s top actresses, Alison Cassels. She graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London before settling in South Africa in 1982. She has appeared in many distinguished stage productions, including Amadeus, Hamlet, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead (NAPAC); Equus and My Fair Lady (Playhouse Company); and Othello (Actors’ Co-operative).

She was nominated by The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards (TMDTA) as best supporting actress for her roles as Mrs Pearce in My Fair Lady and Emilia in Othello.

In recent years she has appeared in the KickstArt Company’s productions of The Importance Of Being Earnest (Vita Award for best supporting actress 2002), Steel Magnolias, Dangerous Liaisons, Winnie the Pooh, The Wizard of Oz and Wit.  In 2007 she received a TMDTA for best actress award for her role as Helen Martin in Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca.

For Fetdiva Productions she appeared as Mother Miriam Ruth in Agnes of God and received a further TMDTA nomination as best actress.

In 2009 she appeared in KickstArt’s production of Margaret Edson’s Wit, which was voted “best of the fest” at Grahamstown. This performance also generated a TMDTA nomination, this time for best supporting actress.

In 2011 and 2012 she played Moira Liversage in Neil Coppen’s award-winning South African play Abnormal Loads which premiered at the Grahamstown Festival.  This was followed by seasons in Durban and Johannesburg.  She received nominations for this role from both TMDTA and the Naledi Awards.

She has also worked extensively on radio for the South African Broadcasting Company taking part in many serials and dramas.  She has appeared in two films, Lamborene and Au Pair.

Dear Mrs Steyn opens at Seabrooke’s Theatre, Durban High School (DHS) on March 18 and runs until March 29. School groups and organisations are invited to book a performance during this period, day time performances also possible. The intimate Seabrooke’s Theatre seats 100 people. Individual tickets for pre-scheduled shows are available at R80 each (R40pp block bookings of 50 or more).

For group bookings email Thomie on  Online bookings can also be made on