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Bluebeard or Barbe-bleue is the tale of a violent and wealthy man who systematically murdered his wives and the one wife's attempts to avoid the same fate.

Also found as Blue Beard in English.

Barbe-bleue - The source material

The first surviving version of the story appeared as Barbe-bleue in a handwritten and illustrated manuscript in 1695 titled Contes de ma mère l'oye (Tales of Mother Goose) by Charles Perrault, later published by Barbin in Paris in 1697 in Histoires ou contes du temps passé ("histories or stories of former times").

There have been numerous stage versions of the basic story over the ages, ranging from serious plays and operas to extravaganzas and pantomimes. Below we list only those stage versions that have been done in South Africa. For more on the general stage history of the Bluebeard tale, see the listing in the entry on "Bluebeard" in Wikipedia[1] and especially Casie Hermansson's useful study called Bluebeard: A Reader's Guide to the English Tradition (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009 ).

Blue Beard by James Robinson Planché and Charles Dance (1839)

The original text

A fairy extravaganza in one act and in verse written by James Robinson Planché (1796–1880)[2] and Charles Dance (1794–1863)[3]. It was first performed in the Royal Olympic Theatre, London, on 2 January, 1839. Published by T.H. Lacy as well as S.G. Fairbrother, 1839

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1878: Performed as a "Burlesque Pantomime" as a part of benefit for Mr Tom Paulton and his wife (Mrs Tom Paulton) by an anonymous company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, with Foul Play or The Scuttled Ship (Boucicault and Reade).


Facsimile of the 1839 publication by Lacy, Google E-book[4]

Casie Hermansson. 2009 Bluebeard: A Reader's Guide to the English Tradition Univ. Press of Mississippi.[5]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.371

William Groom. 1899-1900. Drama in Cape Town. Cape Illustrated Magazine, 10(4): 478-481, 517-520, 547-552, 580-584, 640-643, 670-672, 706-708.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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