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Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare.

The full title of the play is The Tragedy of Macbeth

The original text

Originally written c. 1600.


Besides translations into virtually all the European languages, and a multitude of other global languages, including three of the South African languages

1950: Translated into Afrikaans by L.I. Coertze.

1959: Translated into Xhosa by uMacbeth by B.B. Mdledle.

1965: Translated into Afrikaans by W.J. du P. Erlank

1982: Translated and adapted into Zulu as Umabatha by Welcome Msomi.

1982: Translated into Tsonga as Macbeth by Felix M. Shilote and Charlotte Nkondo. Published: Braamfontein : Sasavona, 1982. 1st Edition.

South African productions of the original play

Always a popular work, this play has been performed in various guises in South Africa, including excerpts used as parts of Shakespeare readings and other performances by individuals such as Mrs Greig (1851 and possibly 1853), .

1854: Mr Nightingale, the Port Captain, obtained the African Theatre for two (unspecified) nights in 1854, to put on Macbeth with the mariners of Simonstown, under the patronage of the Lt. Governor. (Bosman, 1928: pp. 409.)

1859: A scene from the play performed by the Charles Fraser and his company in Cape Town with Ben Bolt (Johnstone) and To Paris and Back for £5 () on 9 May.

1942: Produced by Henry Miles at the Standard Theatre, 1942.

1950: Produced in Afrikaans by African Theatres in association with National Theatre Organisation, and directed by Gwen ffrangçon-Davies, with André Huguenet (Macbeth), Anna Neethling-Pohl (Lady Macbeth), M.S. du Buisson (Duncan), Johann Nell (Macduff), Gert van den Bergh (Malcolm) and Berdine Grünewald (Lady Macduff). It was staged in Johannesburg and eventually in the Alhambra Theatre in Cape Town. (Source: Leonard Schach: The Flag is Flying, 62)

1967: Produced in Afrikaans in the W.J. du P. Erlank translation of 1965. Directed by Fred Engelen, presented by University Theatre Stellenbosch in 1967, performed in the H.B. Thom Theatre, subsequently in the Van Zyl Hall, in the Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn. Décor, costumes and lighting by Elaine Aucamp and Pieter de Swardt. Tine Balder as Lady Macbeth, Fred Engelen as Macbeth, Charles Fryer as Banquo. Other members of the cast were Jocelyn de Bruyn, Johan Esterhuizen, Ben Dehaeck, Mees Xteen. The three witches were portrayed by Gretchen Holzapfel, Rahila Steyn and Bettina Camerer.

1967: Presented by René Ahrenson and Cecilia Sonnenberg at Maynardville, directed by Leslie French starring himself as Duncan, King of Scotland, Michael Atkinson as Macbeth, Michael Newell (Malcolm), Peter Curtis (Banquo), Cecilia Sonnenberg (Lady Macbeth), and others.

1971: Presented by NAPAC Drama at the Alhambra Theatre, Durban, directed by Michael Meacham, from 7 September 1971.

1972: Presented by CAPAB Drama opening at the Nico Malan Theatre on 15 May 1972, directed by Bernard Brown, with Michael Atkinson as Macbeth, Marika Mann as Lady Macbeth, aslo starring Keith Grenville, Ronald France, Phillip Birkinshaw, Michael Drin, Stephen Gurney, Christopher Prophet, Peter Curtis, John Whiteley, Pietro Nolte, John Ramsbottom, Glynn Day, Liz Dickand others. Set designed by Keith Anderson, costumes by Jennifer Craig and Penny Simpson.

1979: A Rhodes University Drama Department production was directed by Roy Sargeant in May, lighting design by John T. Baker of CAPAB and Ken Robinson, starring Lawrence Hilton and Paul van Zyl.

1980: Ron Smerczak starred in the play with Sandra Prinsloo with direction by Leonard Schach at the Alexander Theatre in 1980.

1981: Directed by Philip Grout in a CAPAB production in the Nico Malan Theatre in 1981, starring Sandra Duncan as Lady Macbeth, Roger Dwyer as Macbeth, Tom Holmes, Alan Swerdlow and Sean Taylor as his sons, John Whiteley as Duncan. Others in the cast were Diane Wilson, Neville Thomas, Nigel Daly, Deon van Zyl, John Dennison, Paul Bosman, Blaise Koch, Phillip Boucher, Russel Savadier, Liz Dick, Clare Stopford and Mary Dreyer. Decor and costumes by Penny Simpson, lighting by Leon Benzakein, music by Ian Kellam. This production was also staged at the H.B. Thom Theatre on 14 April.

1985: Presented by Young People's Theatre, directed by Phyllis Klotz, starring André Jacobs and Terry Norton, Little Theatre, Cape Town. Design by Jenny Gillis.

1989: Directed by Gina Benjamin for SODA, Wits Theatre.

1990: Presented by NAPAC, first performance The Drama, the Natal Playhouse on April 4, 1990. Direction Nicholas Ellenbogen, design Peter Cazalet, lighting design Graham Eales. The cast: Sean Taylor as Macbeth, Lady Macbeth played by Brenda Radloff, John Whiteley, David Dennis, Gary D'Alessandro, Ian Hadfield, Graham Weir and others.

1990: Staged by PACT, directed by Dieter Reible, with Graham Hopkins/Jonathan Rands (Macbeth), Bill Curry (Duncan), Terence Reis (Malcolm), Wayne Robins (Donalbain), Graham Hopkins (Banquo), Jonathan Rands/Christopher Wells (Macduff), Sandra Prinsloo/Mitzi Booysen (Lady Macbeth), Mitzi Booysen/Sandra Prinsloo (Lady Macduff), Dale Cutts (Everyman I), Martin Le Maitre (Everyman II), Andre Odendaal (Witch), Embeth Davidtz (Witch), Dan Sebogodi (Witch) and others.

1992: Staged by PACOFS, directed by Desmond Hughes, with Dawid Minnaar (Macbeth), Ernst Eloff (Duncan), James van Helsdingen (Malcolm), Hannes van Wyk (Donalbain), Pieter Brand (Banquo), Zane Meas (Macduff), Anton Welman (Lennox), Nigel Kane (Ross), Nico Luwes (Menteith), Isadora Verwey (Lady Macbeth), Corien Pelt (Lady Macduff), Marga van Rooy (Witch), Christo Compion (Witch), Petro-Nelise Trichardt (Witch) and others. Decor by Johan Badenhorst and costumes by James Parker.

1996: Presented by CAPAB, directed by Marthinus Basson with Keith Grenville as King Duncan, André Roothman as Macbeth, Terry Norton as Lady Macbeth, Joshua Lindberg as Banquo, Nicholas Dallas as Donaldbain, also featuring Diane Wilson and Graham Weir and others. At the Nico in Cape Town and the National Arts Festival, 1996.

1997: Directed by David Peimer, Nicole Krowitz and Monique Garden for SODA, Downstairs Theatre.

2000: Presented by University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in the H.B. Thom Theatre, directed by Johan Esterhuizen with André Weideman as Macbeth.

2006: an Actors Centre production directed by Mark Graham, assisted by Dorothy-Ann Gould, in 2006 in the Tesson Theatre. Carl Beukes as Macbeth, Ilanit Shapiro as Lady Macbeth, David Dennis as Duncan, David Butler as Banquo, Nick Boraine as Macduff, Sivan Raphaely Lady Macduff. Decor by Denis Hutchinson, choreography by Ivan D. Lucas.

2013 Presented in the PEMADS Little Theatre, as a joint production between PEMADS and the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival. Directed by Lesley Barnard, with Gareth Bain, Helen Flax, Andrew White, Robert van den Ordel, Liz Yates, Mark Farrow , Yolande Farrow and David Roll.

Adaptations of the original play

Macbeth has been adapted numerous times and in a variety of ways over the ages, notably into an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi (see: Macbeth (opera)) , theatrical works by Heiner Müller and Charles Marowitz, and a range of films. Here we consider only those versions created and/or performed in South Africa.

Adapted in 1971 by Heiner Müller, entitled Macbeth. This adaptation was translated into English by Tjaart Potgieter with the title Shakespeare's Macbeth

Umabatha by Welcome Msomi

A Zulu reworking of Shakespeare's Macbeth . First published by Heinemann, 1998.

1970: First presented in the University of Natal’s Open Air Theatre under the direction of Pieter Scholtz and Elizabeth Sneddon in 1970. It also travelled to London in 1972, where it played to acclaim in the *** theatre.

1974: Staged in Maynardville by Rene Ahrenson and Cecilia Sonnenberg with The Zulu Theatre Company.

1978: Performed in the Baxter Theatre, directed by Phillip Msomi.

1995 and 1996: A new production of Umabatha, written and directed by Welcome Msomi, played seasons at the Civic Theatre and the Playhouse Theatre.

1998: Revived and once more taken to London

2001: played in London to acclaim once more, as part of the Celebrate South Africa Festival in London.

2016: Produced by University of Pretoria’s Drama Department as their contribution to the 400th year commemoration of Shakespeare's birth. Re-interpreted (with references to the current political situation) and directed by Josias Dos Moleele, choreographed by Luyanda Sidyia, with set design by Karabo Legoabe and costume design by Nthabiseng Makone. Members of the Usuthu community theatre groups from Atteridgeville and Mamelodi form part of the cast. Performed in the Masker Theatre, Pretoria, 20 – 23 September.

A Macbeth by Charles Marowitz

1973: Directed by Charles Marowitz for PACT Drama in the Alexander Theatre, starring Siegfried Mynhardt, Molly Seftel, Billy Matthews and Ken Leach.

MacBeki - A Farce to the Reckoned With by Pieter-Dirk Uys

A farce broadly based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, providing a comic and satiric version of the events surrounding the deposition of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's second president after Apartheid, using the Scottish play as a framework. Originally devised and written for production by University of Cape Town students.

2009: First produced by the University of Cape Town Drama Department, directed by Christopher Weare in the Little Theatre, Cape Town on the 25th February, 2009, with Themba Mchunu, Lerato Motshwarakgole, Gabriel Marchand, Gerald Dhunrajah, Rudi Swart, Chase Downs, Rosa Whitcher, Mpho Kgosana, Abongile Kroza, Mandisi Sindo, Siyabulela Sikawuti.

2009: The first professional production at the Market Theatre in 2009, directed by Pieter-Dirk Uys, with Fezile Mpela, Nthati Moshesh, Lizz Meiring, Mpho Osei-Tutu, Coco Merckel, Sello Sebotsane, Kenneth Fok and others.

Published by Peninsula , in association with Junkets Publishers, 2009.

macbeth.slapeloos by Marthinus Basson and cast

(Translation: "macbeth.sleepless". Also written Macbeth, slapeloos.)

An adaptation of Shakespeare's play, using the original Afrikaans translation by Eitemal (nom de plume of W.J. du P. Erlank), and adapted by Marthinus Basson and the cast.

2014: Performed at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK), produced by Hugo Theart and TEATERteater, in association with Clover Aardklop and Artscape. Directed by Marthinus Basson, with Dawid Minnaar, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Jana Cilliers, Antoinette Kellerman, Stian Bam, Charlton George, Ludwig Binge, Edwin van der Walt en Senzo Madikane. Lighting design by Albert Snyman and choreography by Estelle Olivier.

2015: Performed at the Baxter Theatre with the same cast.

Macbeth, or Macbeth after Shakespeare, by Heiner Müller

A German adaptation of the play by Heiner Müller (1929-1995), done in in 1971.

Translated into English as Macbeth after Shakespeare.

Another English translation was done by the South African playwright and director Tjaart Potgieter and given the title Shakespeare's Macbeth

1989: Presented as Shakespeare's Macbeth by CAPAB Drama, directed and produced at the 1989 Grahamstown Festival by Marthinus Basson (who also designed the costumes). Gustav Geldenhuys assisted the director. Design by Reiner Leist. Lighting by Malcolm Hurrell. Ron Smerczak as Macbeth, Antoinette Kellermann as Lady Macbeth. Also featuring Norman Coombes, Li Newman, Damon Galgut, David Clatworthy, André Roothman, Diane Wilson, Ralph Lawson, David Butler, Bo Petersen, Mark Hoeben, Pauline O'Kelly, Warrick Grier, Neels Coetzee and others. This production was also staged at the Nico Malan Theatre, opening 15 July 1989.

The Okavango Macbeth by Alexander McCall Smith

Adapted into a chamber opera set in Southern Africa, entitled The Okavango Macbeth by Alexander McCall Smith.

The Tragedy of Macbeth by Walter Greyvenstein

This is an adaptation as a one-act play, for educational use, of the original Shakespeare work . Published in Drama, Action and Interaction by Academica Publishers, 1989.


Trek, 7(12):17, 1942.

Theatre programmes (CAPAB), 1972, 1981.

The Zulu Theatre Company theatre programme (Maynardville), 1974.

Newspapers clippings and photographs of the 1967 production, collected by Johan Esterhuizen.

PACT theatre programme, 1990.

PACOFS theatre programme, 1992.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Beeld, 23 February 2006.

National Arts Festival programme, 1996

Aardklop 2013 Programme

Macbeth finds new home in PE's Little Theatre Bob Eveleigh (Artslink 02/11/2014 10:20:05)

Marié-Heleen Coetzee. 2016. "uMabatha takes centre stage", Artslink, 09/18/2016[1]

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