“In-Service Learning: Training Stage Technicians in South Africa Today”

Presentation with Jan Hendrik Nel (South Africa)

Dr. Jan Nel obtained a BA Teacher’s degree at Pretoria University. From 1966 he worked at the Wiesbaden State Theatre, Germany where he obtained the “Theatermeisters Diploma” and worked as Production Manager. In 1974 he was appointed Technical Director of the Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town and in 1977 as Technical Director of Windhoek Theatre, Namibia. From 1980 he was Head of Department and Principal Lecturer in Stage Technology at Technikon Pretoria where he completed his M Tech and D Tech degrees on theatre safety. He is Acting HOD of the Department of Entertainment Technology at Tshwane University in Pretoria.  


During the last two decades the South African Performing Arts Industry went through a major shift mainly because the Performing Arts Boards were terminated and a “new” entertainment industry developed. This change had a direct influence on the training of technicians for the Entertainment Industry.

Because of the new, large-scale productions such as the World Cup Soccer event new demands developed around the training of technicians who were being prepared for the industry.

Such demands included, amongst others, the following:

For local production companies these events offered new opportunities and challenges such as the introduction of the latest stage lighting, sound, audio visual equipment and stage technical equipment. This however posed a new problem: the staging companies did not have adequately trained technicians that were required for all the productions.

A close working relationship between technical training institutions and the entertainment industry provided the solution to this problem. Students from the training institutions were now trained on new equipment by the companies because of a work integrated learning/ in-service training agreement between the institutions and the companies.

Another offshoot that resulted from the closing of the Performing Arts Boards was the development of Community Arts Festivals across the whole country. For these community festivals the staging companies supplied the stage technical infrastructure and students from the technical training institutions again were called in as operators. This proved to be an excellent additional in-service training opportunity for students and at the same time they are committed to community service.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"