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10 March 2020 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Victor Sguassero (kykNET)
Chris Vorster
Chris was on stage in 'Die Hart Verklap' at the Toyota US Woordfees in Stellenbosch recently.

“Difficult and very strange,” is how Chris Vorster, veteran actor and Drama lecturer at the University of the Free State (UFS) describes his role as Bas Koorts in the supernatural thriller Die Spreeus

For Chris, the biggest challenge during the filming of Die Spreeus was to work in front of a green screen. “You never see the monsters and things attacking you, it is only added later on during the editing process,” he said. Therefore, he and his co-actors were expected to use their own imagination “to be frightened, and to duck and dive from something that does not exist.” 

This Afrikaans thriller series has recently been nominated in five categories of the South African Film and Television Awards, including Best Television Drama, Best Cinematography, and Original Sound and Sound Editing. 

Chris was also nominated for a Fiësta award in 2019 for his one-man performance in the theatre production, Die Hart verklap. “It is fantastic to still be recognised for my work,” he said, “but I also have to give recognition to Dion van Niekerk, because without a good director, any actor will be lost.” Van Niekerk also lectures Drama at the UFS.

Being a lecturer broadens his knowledge 

Chris joined the UFS Department of Drama and Theatre Arts in 2015 as lecturer in the programme for Film en Visual Media. “Everything I learn in the industry I apply as lecturer, and research and teaching feed more knowledge on acting, directing, and especially writing,” he said. After five years, being involved with the UFS Department of Drama is still exciting to him. “This is where both lecturers and students get encouraged to do more than just breathing.” 

With his busy schedule of teaching and acting, it remains important to him that South Africans are still able to tell stories – “in any language”. He considers it a privilege for anyone to work in their mother tongue. This is also why the symbiosis between his work as actor and lecturer is so appealing.

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#Women'sMonth: PSP provides scholarly support system for Prof Wilson-Strydom
2017-08-17

Description: Merridy Wilson-Strydom Tags: National Research Foundation, Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom, Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, Prestige Scholars Programme, writing retreats, higher education literature 

Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom loves asking questions and
therefore has a strong focus on research.
She also enjoys supervising PhD students.
Photo: Sonia Small


Publishing her first book and receiving a rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) are career highlights for Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom. As an emerging scholar, the Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) of the University of the Free State (UFS) played an important role in reaching these goals. 

According to the Associate Professor in the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, the PSP provided an important scholarly support system, both through the coordinators and the other researchers who are part of the programme.

Writing retreats made book possible
“I found the support and advice provided during the process of applying for funding and rating really helpful,” she says about receiving a NRF C2 rating, based on her work over the past eight years.
She compliments the PSP writing retreats, which “provided a wonderful space for writing and it was during the writing retreats that I did a lot of the writing for my book that was published by Routledge in 2015.” Her book, University Access and Success: Capabilities, Diversity and Social Justice, moving back into academia from institutional research, working closely with undergraduate students as research participants, and postgraduate supervision, are all highlights of her work.

Her book makes a valuable contribution to higher education literature related to access and transition to universities. But, contrary to the mainstream approaches to access which rely on school performance and admissions tests, she poses the issue of social justice at the centre of the analysis.

Student project produces E-book
Another project headed by her and funded by the NRF Thuthuka Programme, was a study to understand the lives of 40 undergraduate students (on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus) who attended township high schools. The study had a particular focus on identifying institutional practices that either enable or constrain students’ capabilities for success in undergraduate study.

One of the outputs was the writing of an E-book called In our own words: Perspectives on being a student. It was written by 30 undergraduate students and the purpose was to provide a platform for students to tell their own stories about life as a student. 

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