Becket ou l'Honneur de Dieu

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Becket ou l'Honneur de Dieu ("Becket, or The Honour of God") is a French play by Jean Anouilh (1910-1987)[1].

It is often simply referred to as Becket, but should not to be confused with Alfred Lord Tennyson's cabinet drama by that name.

The original text

The play was first performed at the Théâtre Montparnasse Gaston Baty in Paris on 8 October 1959 and on Broadway in 1960. Published in Paris by Table Ronde in 1959.

It is part of what is referred to as his Pièces Costumées along with L'Alouette (1952) and La Foire d'empoigne (1962).

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English by Lucienne Hill as Becket, or The Honour of God, performed in London 1961, published in New York by New American Library in 1960.

Translated into Afrikaans from the original French by Bartho Smit as Becket of Die Eer van God, and published in the collection Bartho Smit-vertalings No 4 by HAUM-Literêr, 1984 (along with Die Burgemeester and Montserrat)

A new English translation by Frederic Raphael and Stephen Raphael was done in London in October 1991.

The play was filmed in 1964 by Peter Glenville with Richard Burton as the Archbishop and Peter O'Toole as King Henry II.

Performance history in South Africa

1963: Performed in English as Becket, it was the first play produced by the newly established CAPAB in the Hofmeyr Theatre, Cape Town, opening on 6 November 1963. Directed by Laurie van der Merwe, with Pietro Nolte in the title role and Alec Bell as Henry II. Others in the large cast were Frank Wise, Michael Drin, Harold Lake, Robert del Kyrke, Alan Prior, Gordon Rennie and Fitz Morley. Among the women were Joyce Bradley, Val Donald and Susan Blake. Sets and costumes were by Eleanor Esmonde-White. Incidental music composed by Arnold van Wyk and recorded by the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra under his conductorship.

1970/71: Performed in a workshop version by PACOFS in the Presidency Theatre, Directed by Jannie Gildenhuys using only six actors to portray the thirty-five characters. The cast consisted of William Egan, Errol Ross,

1974: Produced by David Schalkwyk for the University of Stellenbosch Amateur Theatre at the Libertas Theatre from 1 to 4 May, starring Marthinus Basson as Henry II and Steffen Zoutendijk as Thomas Becket.

1979: Bartho Smit's Afrikaans version was performed by PACT in the State Theatre, directed by Francois Swart/Louis van Niekerk(?) with Marius Weyers, Frans Marx, Errol Ross, Wilna Snyman, Chris Potgieter, Don Lamprecht, Ben Kruger, Dawid van der Merwe, Amor Tredoux, Gerben Kamper, Elise Hibbert, Rika Sennet, Etienne Puren, Pierre van Pletzen, George Ballot, Eric Nobbs, Johan Blignaut, Mieder Olivier, Jacques Malan, Rudi van Loggerenberg, Jean Louis Joubert, Sean Glenn and Stevie Delport.


Becket theatre programme, CAPAB 1963.

Grütter, Wilhelm, CAPAB 25 Years, 1987. Unpublished research.

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