For the most part, theatre was strictly segregated and most theatre was strictly white only and very classical, with the Market Theatre in Johannesburg a shining beacon in a dark world, bravely putting on multi-racial and provocative new works by writers such as Athol Fugard and John Kani. There were films about South Africa, such as Cry Freedom and A Dry White Season but many of the earliest were shot outside the country, with neighbouring Zimbabwe standing in. The few films that were made here, such as Zulu, dealt with less controversial subjects than the political mayhem that raged around them.
The A-list arrives
In the last 30 years, the country has begun to make up for lost time at first developing TV mini-series such as Shaka Zulu and Rhodes to be shown at home and abroad and then turning to the big screen.
With wonderful scenery, a perfect climate, an English speaking population and favourable finances, it is an obvious choice for locations and it is increasingly finding favour with Hollywood. In recent years, Johannesburg, Cape Town and the Northern Cape has stood in for comic book creations, Iraq, Afghanistan and the future, as well as playing themselves to huge effect. Stars from Leonardo di Caprio to Nicholas Cage, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Hudson have arrived to star. And slowly home-grown South Africans are beginning to reap the benefits, with stars such as Charlize Theron and Sharlto Copley, directors Neill Blomkamp and Gavin Hood making their names in the wider world.
South Africa cashes in
The South African National Film and Video Foundation is working hard to pull in new films - after all films are perhaps the best advertising there is for the country's travel trade. The Cape has built a new R500 million film studio at Somerset West, just outside Cape Town and set up the Cape Film Commission. Kwazulu Natal is set to follow suit. Plans have already been drawn up for the new "Durban Film City". Expect to see a lot more of this stunning country and its people on your screens in the future.