Germanicus

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Germanicus is an Afrikaans verse play by N.P. van Wyk Louw (1906-1970).


The original play

Based on Tacitus's Annales 3: 1-3, the play is set in Roman times and deals with patriotism and loyal rebellion, through the story of a young hero, the Roman general Germanicus.

First published as fragments in the journal Standpunte (Vol 1, nr. 2, April 1946 and Vol 6, nr. 2, Desember 1951). The full text was only published by Tafelberg Publishers in 1956, but has been reprinted many times since. A standard prescribed work for schools and universities. Awarded the Hertzog Prize for Drama, 1960.

Performance history in South Africa

1956: First performed as a radio broadcast by the SABC.

1957: First performed as a stage play on 14 June in a production by the National Theatre Organisation , in co-operation with BAT, and was the opening presentation in the new Bellville Civic Theatre. Directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl with Johann Nell as "Germanicus" and Lydia Lindeque as "Agrippina". The rest of the cast consisted of Gerrit Wessels, Anna Neethling-Pohl, Kobus van der Colff, Pietro Nolte, Johan Malherbe, Hélène Scholtz, Pieter Bredenkamp, Ulrich Fobian, J.A. van der Vyver, Gottfried Scholtz, Cornelia Stander, Alto Loots, Laurie van der Merwe, Louis Pienaar, Fanie Bekker. Costumes by Doreen Graves and Stephan de Villiers, décor by Frank Graves.

1958: Produced in Pretoria also by the National Theatre Organisation , this time as opening presentation in the new theatre at the University of Pretoria in 1958. Directed by Tone Brulin with Francois Swart as "Germanicus" and Milla Louw as "Agrippina". The rest of the cast included Pieter Geldenhuys, Aletta Gericke, Pietro Nolte, Dawid van der Walt, Bet Botha, Billy Pretorius and others. Michal Grobbelaar was the production manager, Laurie van der Merwe assistant director and Piet Bezuidenhout stage manager. Décor by once more by Frank Graves, while the the costumes designed for the 1957 production in Bellville were used again.

1971: Directed by Ria Olivier for Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in 1971, with Philip du Plessis as "Germanicus", Fred Nel as "Piso", the role of "Agrippina" alternating between Tarina Kleyn and Marianne Roux. Other members of the cast were, among others, Juanita Swanepoel, Fred le Roux, Johann van Heerden, Herman Pretorius, Laurika Rauch, Ben Dehaeck, Jocelyn de Bruyn and Marcel van Heerden.

1981: Presented by PACT as part of the opening ceremonies for the State Theatre in Pretoria, directed by Francois Swart with Marius Weyers ("Germanicus"), Etienne Puren ("Lucius"), Sandra Prinsloo ("Agrippina"), Anna Neethling-Pohl ("Livia"), Louis van Niekerk ("Piso"), Petro van der Walt ("Marcia"), Jacques Loots ("Dokter"), Alwyn Swart ("Sekretaris"), Fred Steyn ("Marius"), Eric Nobbs ("Marcus"), Don Lamprecht ("Caius"), Carel Trichardt ("Segestes"), Wilna Snyman ("Thusnelda"), Rika Sennett ("Plancina"), Louw Verwey ("Tiberius"), Pierre van Pletzen ("Clemens"), Franz Marx ("Koning Aretas") and others. Décor and costumes by Chris van den Berg.

1991: Presented by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in September 1991, in celebration of the H.B. Thom Theatre's 25th anniversary. Directed by Johan Esterhuizen, starring Waldemar Schultz as "Germanicus", André van der Merwe as "Piso" and Sandra Fourie as "Agrippina". Costumes were designed by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder.

Translations and adaptations

An English translation of the Afrikaans text was done by Jo-Marie Claassen between 2004 and 2006, and published as an e-book by Dragonfly eBooks[1] in 2013.

Sources

Die Taalgenoot, 26(11), 1957.

Lantern, 8(2):183, 1958.

PACT theatre programme, 1981.

Germanicus theatre programmes, 1957 and 1991.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Johann Lodewyk Marais, 2010. "Geskiedenis en literatuur in N.P. van Wyk Louw se Germanicus" (1956) in Stilet — Vol. XXI:1 — March 2010

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